What’s wrong with Jack McInerney? I have been asking myself this question for the past three weeks. In those three weeks, McInerney has taken eleven shots and none of them have found the back of the net. Needless to say, the man known as Jack Mac will need to find his scoring touch soon if the Union has any chance of making a serious run the playoffs.
Like many Union supporters, I was thrilled when I heard McInerney was announced to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup roster for the USMNT. It would be a great experience for him and give him the opportunity to train with some of the best players the United States had to offer. I hoped that he would come back to the team a better player and continue to be a serious contender for the Golden Boot. Sadly, like so many things in the Philadelphia sports world, my hopes have not come to fruition. McInerney left the team without finding the back of the net for the last three games. And when he returned his struggles only continued as he has yet to add to his ten goal total in the past three fixtures. Since McInerney is only twenty-one years old, it is fair to assume that his goal drought is frustrating him and causing him to force the issue, especially when you look at the fact out of those eleven shots in the past three fixtures, only one has been on target. I can recall a few instances where McInerney has launched some shots from well outside the penalty area that even the best soccer players would struggle to convert on. Aside from his errant shots, one thing that concerns me is that McInerney isn’t converting any “garbage” goals as he had done many times earlier in the season. He always seemed to position himself in the right place inside the penalty area and was able to score on several Sheanon Williams long-throws and rebounds that the opposing goalkeeper would give up.
I’m not going to jump to any conclusions and say that McInerney has lost his scoring touch or that he is a flash in the pan. The Union’s well-known consistency problems seem to be hurting him as well. Sebastien Le Toux has had a few off games as of late and hasn’t been placing his crosses and corner kicks as accurately has he had earlier in the season. And this wouldn’t be a post about the Union if I failed to mention the overall struggles of the midfield. Michael Farfan has been up and down throughout the season, Keon Daniel rarely makes the correct pass, Brian Carrol continues to show his age and I never expect Danny Cruz to have any sort of meaningful impact of the playmaking aspect of the game. If Connor Casey isn’t holding the ball in the box well then McInerney is left chasing after hail-mary passes from the backline only to have them trickle out of bounds. I missed the Chicago Fire game but in the games against Portland and Vancouver, McInerney seemed to be making good runs and did relatively well controlling the ball, but overall it seems as though his first and second touches aren’t quite what they were earlier in the season.
There is a laundry list of reasons as to why Jack Mac has been struggling, the midfield, his time away from the team in addition to playing two of the better teams in the West in Portland and Vancouver and a revitalized Chicago Fire team. I truly hope that he can pick up a goal or two against D.C. United this weekend and get back on track in the goal scoring department. Maybe he needs those goals to gain his confidence back and be the player he was a several weeks ago. This goal drought might be a necessary evil for him to experience to strengthen his resolve and come out on the other side of this drought a better and mentally stronger player and I have confidence and hope that he can do just that.