Standing on the Edge of Something Big
By now you’ve heard the comparisons.
Jack McInerney is the American Chicharito. His teammates are calling him “Jackarito“, and he is trying to play it down as any true professional would. And we should try to avoid getting into the habit of comparing young Union players to players to others who may have accomplished great things, or are currently accomplishing great things in their careers. We all saw how that turned out with ‘the next Pele.’
The one thing I am willing to say is that Jack McInerney is standing on the edge of something big.
In his rookie season, there were times that it was obvious there was at least potential for the young striker. His vision for making runs off the ball was always something that stood out to me. His sophomore season was a bit underwhelming, but then again there were more strikers trying to find playing time. And, of course we all know what happens in the story when old boss Peter Nowak is kicked to the curb and John Hackworth shows faith in him.
Let’s go over his stats up to this point:
- 2010 = 17 appearances, 1 start, 350 minutes, 3 goals, 0 assists
- 2011 = 18 appearances, 5 starts, 558 minutes, 1 goal, 0 assists
- 2012 (under Nowak) = 5 appearances, 0 starts, 93 minutes, 0 goals, 0 assists
- 2012 (under Hackworth) = 20 appearances, 18 starts, 1,537 minutes, 8 goals, 3 assists
- 2013 (first 7 games) = 7 appearances, 6 starts, 534 minutes, 6 goals, 0 assists
It’s clear that his career has been on a steady incline, albeit a slight hiccup to start the 2012 season. Minutes, starts, and goals (except for 2011) have been increasing and with 6 goals in just the first 6 starts of 2013 there is plenty of room to grow.
To drive home this point a bit farther, in his last 23 starts he has 14 goals. That is a strike rate of just over a goal every game and a half. Even if you take his minutes under Hackworth (1,537 + 534= 2,071) and divide it by the goals scored in that time (14) it comes out to a goal every 147.92 minutes, which is roughly a game and a half as well.
If that goal rate is continued over the course of a 34 game season, he would be on track to score 20 goals. Keep in mind, however that he would need to play every single minute of the season to attain that rate.
If you’re not one for math feel free to jump to the next paragraph. If you look at just his current form, 6 goals in 534 minutes in 2013, he is averaging a goal every 89 minutes and has played 85% of the minutes the Union have played this season (543 out of 630). Should Jack play in 85% of the minutes for the 2013 season (2,601 of a possible 3,060) and scored every 89 minutes he would score 29 goals this season.
That is correct, based on his current form over the first 7 games of the season Jack is set to score 29 goals this season and break the single season record of 27 goals set by Roy Lassiter in 1996 with the Tampa Bay Mutiny and matched by Chris Wondolowski in 2012 with the San Jose Earthquakes. That’s the type of form Jack is on right now.
Do I think Jack will be able to keep up that form over the entire season? Probably not. It’s a lot to ask of a 20 year old kid. No one has ever lead the Golden Boot race at a younger age than Jack is right now. It’s actually quite ironic that the leader of the Budweiser Golden Boot race can’t even legally enjoy the sponsor.
Another thing standing in the way of Jack reaching such great heights is the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Other than a cold streak the size of a Red Bull championship drought or an injury, McInerney will be on Klinsmann’s radar for the 2013 summer tournament. The national team boss has already announced that the team he calls in for the Gold Cup will be MLS-heavy. If that is the case, how could you leave off the hottest striker in the country?
The lights are just starting to shine on McInerney, but they could still get much brighter. A place in the Golden Boot race, possible international debut, and leading a professional team that has still not figured out how to possess the ball or sustain pressure for long periods of time all before his 21st birthday.
This could be a big year for the youngster.
Philly faithful, enjoy it while you can, there are bigger things in store for Jack McInerney and it might not be much longer until it’s not just the local and national media paying attention.