The Philadelphia Union have made a lot of major pickups in the offseason after finishing the 2013 MLS season outside of the playoffs. On top of the highly touted U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Maurice Edu, the Union have brought in two Designated Players. French midfielder Vincent Nogueira and Argentine midfielder Cristian “Chaco” Maidana are going to make immediate impacts on Major League Soccer. However, the player that is going to have the best season for the Union isn’t one of the new midfielders; it’s Philadelphia’s leading scorer from last season, Jack McInerney.
McInerney finished last season with 12 goals, leading the Union in goals scored despite significant periods throughout the season with goal droughts. Part of the reason that Philadelphia was unable to win in the final stretch of the season to jump into the playoffs was due to how his form collapsed in the middle of the season. By the time he started scoring again, it was too late and the Union were left on the outside looking into the MLS playoffs. This season there won’t be a mid-season slump.
McInerney’s best aspect is his positioning; he always seems to be in the right place at the right time on the field. His positioning will aid him even more this season due to the midfielders that the Union have on their roster. With midfielders like Chaco, Nogueira and Edu, all top shooters as well as passers, long distance shots will fly often which leads to second chance opportunities for McInerney when the goalkeeper makes a save.
On top of the added bonus to J-Mac’s fantastic poaching ability, you can’t forget that one of the best passers in MLS, Sebastien Le Toux, is out on the wing for Philadelphia. Le Toux constantly swings in pinpoint crosses and forces defenders to pressure and stop him from getting into space. In addition, MLS veteran Conor Casey will often play with McInerney up top. His physicality, the danger he poses and the contrasting style of play will open things up for McInerney to score more often in 2014.
This season, McInerney is primed to explode into a top MLS star. The 2014 MLS Golden Boot could definitely find its way into the hands of the Union’s No. 9 as he leads Philadelphia to a top three seed in the MLS playoffs. Continued success could lead him to become a major part of the USMNT after the World Cup in Brazil. The future is bright for McInerney, and that bodes well for the future of the Union in Major League Soccer.