Jack McInerney is going national.
The Union forward has been selected to the U.S. Men’s National Team for the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament.
The news, first reported by Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated on Wednesday, was confirmed in statement from the Union on Thursday.
“It means a lot for me," McInerney said. "This is something that I’ve always wanted. I always grew up watching the Men’s National Team play and wanted to be there one day. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I think it will once I get there, but right now in the moment, it feels good.”
“I got a phone call from [national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann], and he told me that I had made it, I’ve been having a good season, congratulations, and I was just excited. I called my parents and I told them, and I think that they were probably happier than I was.”
“I think it will be a good experience for me. Obviously, it will be tough; I haven’t been in this situation before and it will take some adjusting, but like I said, I’m excited, and I’m ready to go in there and try to compete for a spot.”
On Wednesday, without confirming the news, Union coach John Hackworth discussed what it would mean to the organization to see McInerney become the first Union player to dress for the USMNT senior squad while with the team.
“It would be great,” said the coach. “We talk all the time in our locker room that if anybody gets individual accolades or honors, that it’s a reflection of everyone in that room. It would be a big step for us in a good direction.”
In the midst of a breakout season, 20-year-old McInerney is the Union’s leading scorer and is tied as the top scorer in MLS with 10 goals in 16 games. His selection, while honorable and celebrated, makes it tough on the Union, who are facing down their toughest stretch of competition this season.
“It will also be challenging,” said Hackworth. “Losing the leading goal-scorer in the league with a tough stretch of games in front of us. But I’m confident there’s guys in the locker room ready to step up and seize that opportunity.”
Selected players are to report to U.S. camp on July 1 to prepare for the tournament, which allows McInerney to play in Saturday’s home match against FC Dallas. But with the Gold Cup beginning on July 7 and wrapping up with the the finals on July 28, McInerney could potentially miss anywhere from three to five MLS games.
Should the U.S. team advance out of the group stage and to the quarterfinals or semifinals, McInerney would miss four games. If the U.S. nails down a trip to the finals, McInerney would miss the entire month of July
Along with McInerney, the Union will be without center attacking midfielder Keon Daniel, who, unlike his teammate, will miss Saturday’s match against FC Dallas to join Trinidad and Tobago.
“Keon has had his most consistent year as a professional and that’s great for him and us,” said Hackworth. “Similar to Jack, getting the honor to play for your national team, we want to honor those things. If you have success, you’re going to have more players called up. We’ll do our best to get on without them.”