In news that shocked the Unionverse this morning, Taylor Twellman dropped a bombshell that, for some, was not even in the realm of possibilities.
Only to be confirmed by Philly.com's Jonathan Tannewald moments later.
Not long after that the Union confirmed the good or bad news, depending on whether you were on a Pro-Jack or Anti-Jack side. Jack McInerney has been traded to the Montreal Impact for 2012 Number One overall pick Andrew "Don't call me Arsene" Wenger. Now I want to make it clear that this article is not going to compare the two players and which team won, but this is going to be remembering Jack for what he was on the Philadelphia Union.
Jack McInerney, drafted in 2010, was a Union original and we all remember seeing the prolific, mop-topped, United States youth team striker drafted then with an eye towards the future. Jack and Danny Mwanga would surely be a force to be reckoned with for years to come (We all know how Mwanga ended up). Therein lies the problem of Jack McInerney during his time with the Philadelphia Union: His potential always outweighed his performance. It rang true in his first 2 seasons with the Union. A goal here, an appearance there. Overshadowed by Mwanga and the suddenly MVP caliber Sebastien Le Toux, Jack was never considered to be more than a back-up under Peter Nowak.
This isn't the first time McInerney was on the trading block. Weeks prior to Peter Nowak being fired, Jack was the focus of being traded. The young striker was left off the 18 and frustrations for the once appreciated McInerney were growing. Nowak was out and Hackworth was in. Thus began the transformation of our heralded youth prodigy. There was a mini-clamoring for McInerney prior to Nowak being ousted with Lionard Pajoy being the main striker and Danny Mwanga having just been traded to Portland. Hackworth came to his rescue and the investment in 3 years of McInerney development was unleashed on the MLS.
During Hackworth's tenure between June 16th, 2012 and June 1st, 2013, Jack was an unbelievable goal scorer. During the Union's 37 games over that span, they scored 47 goals and Jack was responsible for 18 of them. The only player in Union history with something close to that kind of production was Sebastien Le Toux, but the frequency of the scoring isn't even close. In 2013, Jack was becoming a star after scoring 10 goals heading into June through 14 games, going so far as being called up to Jurgen Klinsmann's 2013 Gold Cup winning roster. He would never make an appearance in the tournament, but surely the 20 year old forward was just growing accustomed to the rigors of being an American international.
Then came the downfall that happens in any heroic tragedy. 20 games, 2 goals. Jack returned from the US Camp clearly a different player. Blame the team around him, blame the weight of expectation, or blame Jack. Any way you spin Jack's emerging stardom was falling as fast and as surprisingly as it emerged. With Jack's dip in form came a dip in the Union's form and another season ending without playing in the playoffs. Has his form carried into the new dawn of 2014? We'll never know now with such a small sample size. It would seem the form, and possibly inflated expectations from an international call up has plagued not only McInerney but also the Union.
Was it time for Jack to go? Maybe, but the now 21 year old striker has so much potential. There is no doubting that and also the sting of having a Union original shipped off will hardly be easy to take for us who appreciate nostalgia. I believe the trade will come at mixed emotions for a lot of people. There is a strong sentiment against Jack as much as there is for him, but I can safely say my opinion is that a trade seemed inevitable. As much as that hurts for some, Jack was never going to stay here and if his attitude was deteriorating, how long before it damaged the team for a long time? On the other side of the coin, Jack's potential is sky high and it is a shame the Union could not tap into that for a longer period of time. In a year we will see whether or not the Union will rue trading such a potentially good striker.
But again, therein lies the problem with our once beloved striker.