For the Philadelphia Union, Saturday’s game against last-place D.C. United was filled with frustration.
But for Philadelphia striker Jack McInerney, so much frustration disappeared with one perfectly-timed goal.
With the Union trailing 1-0 in the 90th minute, McInerney charged into the box and headed a Kleberson cross into the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1 and help the Union salvage an important point.
The goal was the team-leading 11th of the season for McInerney but his first since June 1, breaking a very long – and very disheartening – scoreless drought.
“It’s been tough,” McInerney said. “And the longer it goes the more frustrating it gets. But you’ve just got to keep fighting and pushing. I’ve proven I can score and I just had to keep my head up and keep going. Now that I got this one, hopefully they can keep coming.”
Because of his 14-game dry spell, McInerney has seen his playing time diminish in recent weeks. And for the third time in the last four games, the 2013 MLS All-Star was left out of the starting lineup when the Union took the field Saturday at RFK Stadium.
But unhappy with his team’s overall performance, especially in the first half when he employed a five-man midfield, Union manager John Hackworth used his final sub to put McInerney into the game with 17 minutes left – a move that would end up paying big dividends.
“I’m really happy for Jack,” Hackworth said. “For him to come off the bench and get a goal, to get the monkey off his back, if you will, and get us a really important point on the road, it’s great for Jack.”
McInerney – who had his only brace of the season back in April at RFK Stadium – nearly scored in the 83rd minute just after goalie Zac MacMath was caught off his line and made a desperate slide tackle in the box to keep the game at 1-0. But D.C. United goalie Bill Hamid stoned McInerney to cap off the wild end-to-end sequence, frustrating the Union striker even further.
“You have to keep going on,” McInerney said. “I struck the ball well. I thought it was going in the net but I think he just stuck his hand out and it him in the hand. It was a good save on his part.”
The young striker’s fortunes finally turned when the red-hot Kleberson swung in a high-arching cross, McInerney snuck in behind Amobi Okugo and made a plea to his teammate.
“I just screamed for him to leave it,” McInerney said. “Half of the time, they don’t do it. But thank goodness he listened.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.