The ballad of Mac the Knife

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Though the shark’s teeth may be lethal

Still you see them white and red

But you won’t see Mackie’s flick knife

Cause he slashed you and you’re dead

The Ballad of Mack the Knife, The Three Penny Opera

Mac the Knife.

Union Jack.

Jack Mac.

Jack McInerney has been called by each nickname. The one most used is the simplest one, Jac Mac.

But this knife thing, it fits.

McInerney has four goals in five starts this year, and eight in his last 12 games overall. Most looked easy, a matter of McInerney finding the right space on the field at the right time and then executing. Just cold-hearted efficiency, dagger in the back.

Every goal celebration looks simple but edgy. On the road, they come across as though McInerney is giving opposing fans the middle finger and saying, “Yeah. That’s right.”

When you interview McInerney, you’ll find the same, no frills approach. He answers questions straightforwardly. He doesn’t say the “right” things. He says the true things. If he’s angry, he says so. He describes what’s happening on the field the way it actually is happening on the field. No cliches. No diplomacy.

McInerney still carries a chip on his shoulder. He clearly hasn’t forgotten what it felt like to warm the bench under former manager Peter Nowak, which famously “pissed” him off. Every goal he scores sends a message to current head man John Hackworth that he’s never going back.

Only three Union originals have remained with the team through all its days. One, Roger Torres, can’t get on the field and seems not long for this club.

The others are the new faces of the team, as foreseen when they were drafted consecutively in the first round in January 2010. Amobi Okugo is the friendly, charismatic, and diplomatic team player. McInerney is the baby-faced killer. (The marketing potential is endless.) McInerney could be Union Jack, but Okugo is busy playing that role, so McInerney will just have to be Mac the Knife: cold, subtle and efficient.

Facts on the Union’s goalkeeping

Some facts on the Union’s goalkeeper situation, with no opinion or analysis offered:

  • Joe Bendik saved as many shots (9) in one game Saturday as Zac MacMath has all season.
  • Only two MLS goalkeepers with five or more starts have faced fewer shots on target than MacMath this year: Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen and the Galaxy’s Carlo Cudicini.
  • MacMath has the league’s worst save rate among goalkeepers with five or more starts, at 53 percent. The next lowest is Portland’s Donovan Rickets, at 62 percent.
  • Philadelphia has outscored opponents 3-1 in first halves this year but been outscored 7-4 in second halves.
  • The Union have played six regular season games. There are 28 more to go.
Now starting at running back: Danny Cruz

Let’s say there was a Philadelphia Union drinking game. (Not that PSP would endorse this. Never.)

Here would be my first contribution: Every time Danny Cruz hits the deck due to reckless play, you drink. (If kung fu kicks are involved, drink twice.)

The former high school running back wears a running back’s number (44) and plays soccer like he still is a running back: Run fast, run hard, make contact, get up, repeat.

Unfortunately, you don’t get bonus points for slamming into your opponent in soccer unless you’re a defender or target forward. Philadelphia fans can be an unforgiving lot, but it’s hard to argue with the chorus of Cruz critics who thought they were watching association football, not American football. Give him credit for playing hard, but his cannonball tactics must have been painful for some to watch Saturday, given that the Union’s four most technically adept midfielders started the game on the bench.


  1. GK situation = small sample size. We can go through a list of goals and define them as either unsaveable or being the fault of someone else for most of them. For example, last game Parke was caught sleeping and looked like an amateur as the Toronto player ran past him. See?
    By no means am I pretending MacMath isn’t painfully medicore so far, but I’m just pointing out there is no reason to act like we have a problem at GK when we have a problem at so many other spots.

  2. OneManWolfpack says:

    The Sons of Ben had a sweet “Union Jack” flag hanging up. I thought that was pretty cool.

    Since MacMath doesn’t face many shots, is that a good thing? I don’t think I want my keeper making 9 saves a game… then again, I see your point… having 3-4 shots a game and letting in at least one is just unacceptable.

  3. From the goalkeeping perspective, the scary part of Saturday’s game wasn’t the goal we let in — Parke blew that one, and Earnshaw was a ninja. The scary part was at the end of the first half, when Zac came out, got nowhere near the ball, and gave O’Dea a free header at an open net.

    • The O’Dea “Shouldbeenagoal” was scary but it happened right in front of me (Sect. 119) and what happened is Zac went for the ball but Parke got his head on it right in front of Zac, therefore leaving the goal wide open. I don’t know what was or wasn’t said, but if Zac is coming out for that ball he should be yelling loud enough for the press box to hear him or staying on his line. I won’t fault Parke for heading it IF he didn’t hear Zac saying anything, but if MacMath called it Parke better get reamed out. Zac has to do a better job of being in control inside the box. If he has to knock out Parke to get the ball so be it.

  4. If it is true D Cruz was a RB in high school I am going to be sick.

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