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.
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.