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USMNT Hopefuls

ASN Exclusive: Jack Mac Talks Gold Cup, World Cup

Jack McInerney is tearing it up for the Philadelphia Union, and U.S. national team supporters are hoping to see the striker in the 2013 Gold Cup. ASN caught up with Jack Mac and asked a few pointed questions.
BY Chris Gigley Posted
June 18, 2013
11:31 AM
WITH HIS NAME atop the Major League Soccer scoring leaderboard halfway through the season, Philadelphia Union striker Jack McInerney has emerged as the first legit scoring threat to come up all the way through the ranks in the U.S. McInerney tells ASN how that almost didn't happen, what playing at the club and national levels here taught him, and how the Union's coaching change last year made him the player he is today.

ASN: You chose to turn pro instead of going to college to play. Was that a difficult choice?

Jack McInerney: It was a pretty easy decision for me. My parents told me that if I went to college I may not get the opportunity again. I could get hurt. But if things didn't work out in soccer, I could always go back and do school.

ASN: What was the key thing you learned by staying here?

JM: Defensive work. In high school or with a club team, the focus for a forward isn't working on your defensive skills. But it's hard to score goals in MLS. A lot of the emphasis is on defending, so that was one of things I had to learn pretty quickly. I didn't understand it at first. As I grew older and had more experience in this league, I saw how it could benefit me and the team.

ASN: Did you ever get a shot to play in Europe?

JM: Before I signed with MLS, I went to a team in Holland, Vitesse, for two weeks. The MLS draft was coming up, so I had to decide pretty quickly if I wanted to play in Europe. I just thought staying here was the best thing for me. It was a different world with Vitesse, really. I was 16 at the time and trained a lot with the first team. I hadn't really been in a professional environment yet, and the experience really opened my eyes to what playing at that level was like.


ASN: You didn't get a lot of playing time under former Union head coach Peter Nowak. How frustrating was that?

JM: It was extremely frustrating. The coaching staff didn't communicate well at all. I didn't understand why I wasn't getting in. As a young player, confidence is everything and my confidence was terrible. My level of play fell right along with it. John Hackworth put me right into the lineup as soon as he took over last year and my confidence came right back. He pulled me into his office and told me, "I don't expect much from you because I know your fitness isn't great, but I want you to go out there and do what you do and do it for as long as you can." So that's what I did.

ASN: You're having an even better season this year. Are you doing anything different?

JM: I don't think so. I'd like to say if I got to play the whole season last year, I would have been able to to put up the same numbers I'm putting up this year. Maybe [Nowak] putting a chip on my shoulder and [Hackworth] having the confidence to put me out there regularly has helped me become the player I am right now. I think my experiences have led me to this point. What I'm doing this season is just what I've been doing my whole life with club and national teams.


ASN: What does a potential 2013 Gold Cup opportunity mean to you?

JM: It means a lot. It's something I've always wanted. One of my goals is to play in the World Cup, and this would be a good start. Whether I make the final roster or not, it's good for my confidence to be recognized by the coaches and people who are at the top of the game. If I get the shot, I'll keep doing what I'm doing here and make the most of it.

ASN: What do you think your prospects are to make the 2014 World Cup roster?

JM: My chances are pretty slim, but you never know what will happen. Someone may get injured or maybe I'll score more goals this year and get some attention. As long as I get on the map for now I'm happy.

Anxious to see Jack Mac in the 2013 Gold Cup? Think he has a chance for the 2014 World Cup roster? Share your thoughts below.

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