Behind the Stats: Will the real Jack McInerney bring his goalscoring ways to Montreal Impact?

Four years after he was touted as one of Philadelphia Union's future franchise players, and just months removed from a breakout run of play that caught the eye of US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Jack McInerney's career is on the move to Montreal.

The Union dealt the 21-year-old striker to the Impact on Friday in a straight-up trade for former MLS SuperDraft top pick Andrew Wenger, leaving many to wonder where McInerney's trajectory will go now that he's left head coach John Hackworth's nest in Philadelphia.

Perhaps the better question, however, is this: Who exactly is the real Jack McInerney? The MLS All-Star who scored 14 goals in a 20-game stretch between 2012-2013 or the one who has 11 goals in his other 75 appearances?

Scoring goals, most of the time, has a lot to do with the places a player puts himself in at the right times. If he makes the right runs or just happens to be in the right place at the right time, he'll pick up what Opta calls a "big chance." It's a stat Opta has collected since 2011 and offers at least one reason why McInerney scored so many goals between during those 20 games between September 2012 and June 2013.

Below is a table that separates McInerney’s 13 games from March 10 to June 1 of last year, and the rest of his career. We use per-90 minutes as our time frame because 27 of McInerney’s first 35 appearances in MLS were made as a substitute. For big chances only figures since 2011 are used .

Jack McInerney
  Goals Per 90 Shooting Accuracy Minutes/Big Chances Big Chances Scored
20 games .8 47% 94 10
Other 75 .3 50% 206 4

The table tells us that for those 20 games, McInerney was getting a big chance every 94 minutes, while he saw the same chance every 206 minutes in his 58 other games. Of course there are many factors that affects a player's goalscoring output, but that change in the quality of chances sure made quite a dent.

So who was creating those big chances for McInerney? Mainly Union midifelder Sébastien Le Toux, who created 12 big chances last season (three of which led to McInerney goals), among the leaders in the league.The Union also leaned on forward Conor Casey and defender Sheanon Williams, who created six and seven big chances, respectively. Two of those 13 ended up in the back of the net courtesy of McInerney.

So do the Impact have players who can replicate this chance creation? The simple answer is yes.

Since 2012, Justin Mapp and Felipe have each created 18 big chances, good for seventh in MLS over that span. If those two can continue to provide that top level chance creation, McInerney has a chance to succeed in Montreal and prove that the real Jack McInerney is still very much an MLS star on the rise.


Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.