Jack McInerney is the hottest striker in MLS right now (Photo courtesy of wikipedia)
If you’re a fan of MLS Soccer or the United States Men’s National Team, one of the names being thrown around lately has been one John Seamus McInerney, you may know him as Jack. McInerney has had a fairly steady rise to fame, but has been on a hot streak since MLS first kick. The current MLS golden boot leader with 10 goals, McInerney has proven himself to be a feared striker. But just what is his ceiling? This summer could prove to be the most important of his career if he wants to be successful on the international stage.
Coming through the ranks of the U.S. soccer system, McInerney could be not only become a formidable player for the USMNT, but a player that would be easy to market as well. He has played in the US U-15’s 17’s, 20’s, and 23’s. His most productive stint was with the U-17 squad, where he made 15 appearances scoring 11 goals, two of which came in the U-17 World Cup. Because of this, he could be “branded,” in a way, as a player who was able to develop in the youth system and became a regular on the senior team.
None of this would be possible though, without his success in league play. Thus far, McInerney has scored 10 goals through 14 league games. He also scored in the Union’s first US Open Cup game of the season. So far, he has proven himself to be a true “number nine” scoring goals at a good clip, and more importantly scoring in big games. McInerney has a knack for scoring equalizers, or go ahead goals, especially in the waning moments of the match.
Now, onto the questions marks because there are plenty of them. The first question surrounding him is simply can he keep up the pace? A mark of a great athlete, in whatever sport, is consistency. If his goals stop flowing at his current rate, all we’ll hear about is how he has cooled off after his hot start. He’s done very well thus far, but the MLS season is a grueling one, especially during the summer months. Consistency will be key for him this season.
Number two is, are the goals coming against quality competition? Now this question could be interpreted in a couple different ways. There is no need to sugarcoat anything here, the overall quality of play in the MLS isn’t to the standard of most European leagues yet. This is why a good amount of the USMNT roster ply their trade overseas. Should we value McInerney’s goal rate less because he is doing it against MLS competition? For me, the answer is no, but it is a tricky no. In my opinion goals are goals, if you have a hot forward on your hands keep riding him until you can’t anymore. His goals per game average (1.4) should be enough to raise a few eyebrows no matter what the competition.
Similar to the level of competition, does the sudden goal outburst come from his teammates? Does he score so much because he’s the only option? In a way, yes. The Philadelphia Union does boast one of the better MLS rosters. Over the offseason Philadelphia added one of the more respected forwards in the league in Conor Casey, and fan favorite Sebastien Le Toux. Even so, these two not finding themselves in as many goal scoring situations as they used to and McInerney has proven to be the team’s only reliable goal scorer thus far.
All of that previous commentary culminates in one thing. You could scroll past the entire the post, but stop here and read from now on. This summer you could see the maturation of a future star. For whatever reason, and this could be a different post for a different time, but the USMNT has floundered in front of goal under Jurgen Klinsmann. McInerney being named to the preliminary CONCACAF Gold Cup roster is a huge opportunity for the young player.
Now I won’t get too far ahead of myself here, but we can at least speculate. Say McInerney features for the US this summer in the Gold Cup, and does well. If the US continues to struggle to put the ball in the back of the net, could we see McInerney get a shot in a future friendly match or earn a spot on the roster for a World Cup Qualifier? It doesn’t seem too likely at this point, but hey, anything can happen. One thing is for sure though, we all could be witnessing a star in the making this summer.
Also posted on TheOneTwo and Phillysportsspace