CHESTER, Pa. – Philadelphia Union striker Jack McInerney has still never spoken with US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
For now, he’s letting his scoring do the talking.
Less than 48 hours after being named to Klinsmann’s preliminary Gold Cup roster, McInerney netted a 91st-minute goal to lift the Union to a 1-1 draw in Toronto on Saturday (above), retaking the MLS Golden Boot lead in the process.
The goal was McInerney’s 10th of the season, one ahead of Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio. More importantly, it continued to show why the red-hot 20-year-old striker belongs in the US national team picture.
“I have no idea what [Klinsmann] is thinking,” McInerney told MLSsoccer.com following Tuesday’s practice. “But I know if I keep scoring, whether I make it now or later, eventually it will come.”
McInerney said he found out he made the 35-man preliminary roster Gold Cup via e-mail from the US team coordinator at around midnight on Thursday, a day before leaving for Toronto. He was told that he’s not going to hear if he makes the final roster until the very end of June, giving him a few more opportunities to impress Klinsmann.
Perhaps he can even win his third consecutive MLS Player of the Month award?
“Yeah hopefully,” said McInerney, who admitted he was surprised when he found out he was named Player of the Month for May because he thought Golden Boot rival Di Vaio deserved it. “I’m off to a good start. We have three home games this month, so I think I have a good chance.”
While McInerney still thinks he has more work to do to before earning his first cap with the senior national team, Union manager John Hackworth said that he believes his young striker should be a lock for the Gold Cup.
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To show why, Hackworth pointed to the fact that many of McInerney’s 10 goals have been game-winners or game-tying tallies late in games.
“For me, he doesn’t have to do anything more,” Hackworth said. “But I don’t get to pick that team. There’s a lot of competition and Jack’s still a young player.”
If recent plaudits are any indication, McInerney would certainly be one of the frontrunners to make the Gold Cup. And the 20-year-old knows that all of the national attention he’s received for his Player of the Month awards and Golden Boot lead should be treated as a good thing and not something that’s overwhelming.
“I like it,” McInerney said. “It drives me and makes me want to perform even better.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.