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Young Jack joins the Union
by Mike Woitalla, January 19th, 2010 7AM



[MLS] Jack McInerney, the youngest player picked at the MLS SuperDraft and the smallest of those who went in the first round, has the "soccer brain" to make a quick adjustment to the pros, says Philadelphia Union coach Peter Nowak.

The 5-foot-8, 155-pound Georgia product -- the leading scorer for the U.S. U-17 national team that played in last year's U-17 World Cup -- was the seventh overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft

"I remember my dad taking me out to the field and passing the ball around with me," says McInerney, who started playing soccer at age 4. "I think they signed me up to play soccer to keep me active. I played baseball and soccer. I was doing well at soccer so I decided to stick with it."

He joined a travel team with Atlanta-area youth club Cobb FC a few years later. "We weren't a big club," he says, "but our team was good."

McInerney climbed the Olympic Player Development (ODP) ladder to the regional level and was spotted by then U.S. U-17 coach John Hackworth, who is now Nowak's assistant coach at the Union. In fall of 2007 he joined U.S. Soccer's Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla.

Despite that it meant leaving home at age 14 -- his parents would drive nine hours to visit him -- it was an "easy decision," says McInerney. "It was my goal to get to Bradenton. And I think it prepared me for the pros."

Hackworth left Bradenton after McInerney's first semester. New coach Wilmer Cabrera said of McInerney, he's "smart and that's why he finds the goal. He knows what his strengths are, he doesn't do too much. Jack's simple and effective, he's not a showman."

In the USA's three qualifying games for the 2009 U-17 World Cup, McInerney scored five goals and made three assists in three victories. At the U-17 World Cup, he scored twice. He graduated from high school in December and signed a Generation adidas contract.

"The challenge is up to him," says Nowak. "I will give him my knowledge. I will give him my passion, and everything I have learned in the past. He has enough soccer brain to develop fast."

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