CHESTER, Pa. - It took Jack McInerney less than 65 total minutes to score his first MLS goal.
It took fellow 2010 first-round pick and Philadelphia Union original Amobi Okugo more than three seasons to accomplish the same feat.
But, on Sunday in Colorado, Okugo finally opened his MLS account – and it was only fitting that his good friend McInerney tallied the other goal in Philly’s gutsy 2-1 win over the Rapids.
“It feels great,” Okugo said. “I’ve been in the league for four years and to get the first goal, especially in an effort where the team gets a win, a hard-fought win, it means a lot.”
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It shouldn’t be too surprising it took Okugo this long to score, considering he’s been mostly used as a central back or defensive midfielder.
But ever since being plugged into the starting lineup when John Hackworth took over as manager last June, Okugo has emerged as one of the team’s most reliable players while quietly becoming one of their most dangerous weapons in the air.
His goal Sunday (above) was a 34th-minute header off a Sébastien Le Toux corner kick.
“I know [assistant coach Rob Vartughian] and Amobi have been talking about him actually scoring on that for a long time, and he just barely missed one last week,” Hackworth said. “It was a really good finish. We executed and got the play we wanted. And he was also excellent on defense today. He had a very key block late in the second half that was probably going on goal. And those kind of critical moments are massive for us right now.”
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Interestingly enough, McInerney – who’s known more for his finishing than his defense – also made a key block in Sunday’s game, clearing a shot from Hendry Thomas off the line in the first half.
Later, the team’s leading scorer from last year showed what he’s best at when he netted the game-winner on a counter-attack in the 79th minute.
“He was huge for us,” Hackworth said of McInerney. “He was really good in the preseason and he came on and played well last week and he certainly deserved the start.
“He was doing everything. It was a massive effort on his part.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.