Jack McInerney, the Philadelphia Union’s 20-year-old rising star, was named to the Gold Cup roster today, becoming the first Philadelphia Union player to be called up to the US senior national team for a competitive tournament.
Quick reminder: a little more than 12 months ago, he didn’t even feature on the Union’s 18-man roster (more due to former manager Peter Nowak’s reluctance to play him than his own talent).
Now, he’s poised to be on the same team as Landon Donovan, perhaps the greatest American soccer player ever and a growing fan of McInerney’s.
One more reminder: McInerney is not even of legal drinking age yet.
Again, this is a really big deal. And it’s rare.
The other night, I did some research and discovered there have been very few younger American players ever called up to the Gold Cup. Here is the list since 2000: Juan Agudelo (2011), Freddy Adu (2009), Michael Bradley (2007), Santino Quaranta (2005), Bobby Convey (2003), DaMarcus Beasley (2002) and Landon Donovan (2002)
You might recognize some of those names.
Does this mean McInerney is on the fast track to the World Cup? Not necessarily. And US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is already trying to manage the expectations around him.
But no matter if the 20-year-old striker features or not during the July tournament, just making the squad is a serious accomplishment for him – and for the Union.
And we should probably expect a stirring send-off for him when he plays his final game Saturday at PPL Park vs. FC Dallas (5:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports) before leaving to do what no other Union player has ever done before him.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com, CSNPhilly.com and The 700 Level. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.