Philadelphia Union’s youthful striker Jack McInerney had taken Major League Soccer by storm.
Having scored three goals in five May matches, he raised his league-leading total to nine and grabbed his second-straight MLS Player of the Month award, all of which would lead to an MLS All-Star game berth (albeit a roundabout one).
A call-up to the USMNT would soon follow, his first senior call-up to the national side. People – important people – were noticing McInerney’s fabulous form.
Fast forward to Saturday. Stuck on 10 goals, it’s been two months and a day since he scored last, and it’s getting in his head.
“It gets frustrating,” said McInerney following their defeat to Chicago. “For forwards, it’s about getting in streaks and I haven’t scored in a while. I just have to get one of those tap-ins that I was getting in the beginning of the season to get it rolling again.”
McInerney most recently missed two clear opportunities against the Fire, uncharacteristic for Jack Mac. That goose egg makes it six straight MLS matches he hasn’t been on the scoresheet.
As a young player, it’s come so easy for McInerney this season so far, so for him to be facing difficulty of this manner will be a good telltale of how he will handle adversity throughout his career. Scoring droughts happen to even the best of the best, so it’s important for the youngster to learn at an early age how to handle the spotlight in these circumstances as well as better ones.
The Union need Jack to get on form as Philadelphia is in position for the playoffs at the moment, but will also need to hold off Houston, New England, and Chicago as the season rolls along.
One man isn’t worried though, and that’s Union coach John Hackworth. “There could be lots of reasons but the reality is that goal-scorers go through swings when the chances just aren’t falling,” said Hackworth. “He’s got to keep plugging away and hopefully find the back of the net soon. He’s a confident young man and he knows what he’s good at.”
The Union have important matches coming up that will be a great opportunity for the 20-year-old to rediscover his shooting boots. Philadelphia host bottom-feeders DC United before heading out for two tough road matches against East leaders New York and the New England Revolution.