CHESTER, Pa. – Just after the US Olympic team had their dreams of qualifying for London dashed in the final seconds of Monday’s 3-3 draw with El Salvador, Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath sent a text to teammate Jack McInerney.
Both MacMath and McInerney are closely linked to the US Under-23 squad, having been called up to many of the team’s camps leading up to Olympic qualifying. But they had pretty much the same reaction as everyone else who watched the game: stunned disbelief.
“As soon as it happened, Zac texted me an he was just like, ‘Wow,’” McInerney told MLSsoccer.com. “There’s nothing you can do. You just feel for them.”
McInerney said he watched the game by himself and felt awful after El Salvador tied the game in the final seconds on a fluky goal that deflected off backup 'keeper Sean Johnson and into the net.
“I didn’t say anything,” the Union striker said. “I was just staring at the TV. It was hard to believe. You just play the game in the back of your mind, like what could they have done differently. It happens. It’s part of the game.”
While seeing his friends lose a heartbreaker was difficult, so too was not being there with them. Before CONCACAF Olympic qualifying began, the 19-year-old Union striker had been a part of every camp and performed well, despite being one of the youngest players on the squad.
“It was hard, but I talked to coach [Caleb] Porter and he gave me good advice,” McInerney said. “It was a learning experience.”
Now, McInerney is ready to welcome back three Union teammates who were a part of the US qualifying squad – Freddy Adu, Amobi Okugo and Sheanon Williams. All three will return to practice for the Union on Wednesday and will play in Saturday’s game against Vancouver at PPL Park (4 pm ET).
“I thought they played well,” McInerney said. “[Adu] was captain and took on that role well. It’s just unfortunate how it ended.”
HIGHLIGHTS: USA vs El Salvador
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com.