CHESTER, Pa. – Philadelphia Union striker Jack McInerney has scored a team-leading 10 goals this season, earned his first US national team call-up last month and recently returned from a whirlwind trip during which he watched the Gold Cup final in Chicago and played in the MLS All-Star Game in Kansas City.
Oh, and he turned 21 on Monday.
So why is McInerney feeling so down?
It all comes down to the fact that the high-scoring striker hasn’t actually scored since June 1, a six-game streak that's been weighing on him every time he takes the field.
“It gets frustrating,” McInerney said following the Union’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire on Sunday. “For forwards, it’s all about getting on a little streak. I haven’t scored in a while and it’s frustrating. I really need to just get one of those tap-ins like I got in the beginning of the season to get rolling again.”
In the 84th minute of Saturday’s game, with Philly trailing by a goal, McInerney collected a cross from Union captain Brian Carroll near the front of goal. But instead of burying the equalizer, the 21-year-old struggled with his first touch before shooting it wide.
“That definitely would have fallen for me six, seven games ago,” McInerney said. “Looking back on it, I just have to decide better what I should have done.”
While the scoring drought might be in his head right now, John Hackworth doesn’t think confidence is an issue for McInerney. Instead, the Union manager chalked up the dry spell to the natural swings that goalscorers go through during the course of a season.
“I certainly don’t see it in training and I don’t get that sense in talking to him,” Hackworth said when asked if McInerney has lost any confidence. “He’s not that way at all. He’s a very confident young man. And he knows what he’s good at. But he also understands how difficult it is [to score].”
Perhaps this Saturday’s game against D.C. United at PPL Park (8 pm ET, NBCSN) will be McInerney's chance to find the back of the net again. After all, the last time Philly played D.C. – back in April – he logged his only brace of the year.
“I think I’m pushing a little too much, just because I know I’m on a streak where I haven’t been able to do what I would have done at the beginning of the season,” McInerney said. “I just need to relax, find a goal and find that rhythm again.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.