"We traded who?!?": Why you shouldn't panic about the Union trading Jack McInerney

"We traded who?!?": Why you shouldn't panic about the Union trading Jack McInerney

Andrew Wenger, right, lunges for the ball as Seattle Sounders' DeAndre Yedlin looks on.

Even if you're the most casual Union fan, the name you know is young striker Jack McInerney. I'd guess if you asked any Philly sports fan to name one Union player, he's the name you'd get 90 percent of the time.

As of today, he's no longer a Union player.

On Friday, the Union shipped the 21-year-old striker to the Montreal Impact in exchange for 23-year-old striker Andrew Wenger.

McInerney bid a heartfelt farewell to Union fans, with a perfect understanding of how he expects to be received upon his return (August 9).

 

On the surface, this seems like a strange move to many Union fans. At this time last year, McInerney was scoring at will, on his way to a team-high 12 goals for the year. Things were very different, though, at the end of the season. McInerney scored just twice after June 1, and only started four of the last nine Union games. McInerney finished with 25 goals in his Union career, but...

 

Wenger (on Twitter @andrewwenger), who is from Lancaster and played for Reading United (now a minor league affiliate of the Union), was the first overall pick of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft and tallied six goals in 18 starts.

(The Union now have three No. 1 overall picks on the roster: Wenger (2012), Maurice Edu (2007) and Andre Blake (2014)).

Those numbers won't wow you, but Wenger also was never "the man" in Montreal, often playing alongside Marco Di Vaio, who doesn't exactly love sharing the ball.

You may be upset with McInerney leaving, and I'm not saying it's a total "win" trade yet either. But let's put it this way, fans have been begging for years for the Union to live in the now and stop always focusing on the future.

That's exactly what they're doing with this trade. Anyone who tries the "typical Union, getting rid of a player everyone likes" argument is not paying attention. Hackworth was quite candid in his call with the media on Friday (quotes from our friend Dave Zeitlin).

"It’s one of those days that this business requires, that’s the way i’ll put it. You don’t like some of the moves you have to make in order for your team to be successful. But if you believe you’re doing the right thing, you have to do it. We want to wish Jack well in everything he does in the future and at the same time we’re excited. We have a player in Andrew Wenger that we feel will be really good for us now and in the long term.

The move has everything to do with the "right here, right now" attitude that John Hackworth is operating under this season. This is it for him, and he knows it. He doesn't have to win a title this year to keep his job, but he can't wait around for McInerney to figure out whatever has ailed him for the last 10 months, or learn to play in the team's new 4-3-3 formation.

For the first time in the Union's short history, the team has a steady formation and relatively set lineup that seems to be working. The only part that isn't working is the finishing in the final third. Wenger won't score 20 goals this year, but it was time for a change.

After years with an evolving midfield, the Union are now midfield-centric. With Edu, Vincent Nogueira and Cristian Maidana on the squad, it's now time to build around them. And the 4-3-3 formation is generating possession in the midfield and chances on the attack. In fact, many of the good chances in the last few games have come from midfielders like Nogueira.

Even before the season started, I (and many others) wondered if McInerney could work in the 4-3-3 formation. After four games, that worry has only grown stronger. I don't pretend to know much about Wenger, but people who do seem to think he could be a better fit in the 4-3-3. Hackworth clearly agrees

Right now we it as a straight swap -- forward for forward. He is more of a prototypical No. 9 than Jack was or is. That’s where we see him. But he is versatile enough, which we really like. You could put him on the left or right, or drop him into the midfield and he’d be effective. I’ve watched him for a long time.

FYI: Wenger is suspended this week after a red-card tackle last week. So you'll likely see Casey start against Chicago on Saturday (5 p.m. - Comcast SportsNet). Amobi Okugo gave him a gentle ribbing Friday for the tackle.

 

Finally, there seem to be many who think McInerney already had his eyes on bigger and better things, even if his recent play doesn't scream "Europe." It was also understood by those "in the know" that McInerney was going to ask for a hefty raise to stay here when his contract was up.

The longer McInerney tried to play in the 4-3-3 formation, the more his flaws (at least in that formation) were going to be exposed. And the more his flaws were exposed, the more his value was going to plummet. In fact, if Conor Casey is truly fully healthy, I was about to call for McInerney to be left out of the starting XI. Not that I think Casey is ideal in the 4-3-3, either, but it was time for a change of pace.

So, Friday's trade may not be a popular move, especially with many casual fans, and I'm not 100 percent sold just yet. But it's nice to see the Union living in the now, instead of angling for more allocation money.

Best of NFL: Redskins notch first win on Hopkins' field goal vs.Giants

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USA Today Images

Best of NFL: Redskins notch first win on Hopkins' field goal vs.Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.  -- Dustin Hopkins kicked a 37-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter for his fifth of the game and the Washington Redskins avoid a near-disastrous 0-3 start with a 29-27 win over the penalty- and error-prone New York Giants on Sunday.

Kirk Cousins threw touchdown passes of 44 yards to DeSean Jackson and 55 to Jamison Crowder as the banged-up Redskins (1-2) handed new coach Ben McAdoo his first loss with the Giants (2-1).

Su'a Cravens ended the Giants' final drive with an interception in New York territory. It was Eli Manning's second pick of the quarter, with the other coming in the end zone by Quinton Dunbar after New York got to the Redskins 15 on a big play by Odell Beckham Jr.

This was a wild NFC East matchup that see-sawed the entire second half after Washington rallied from a 21-9 deficit.

The fourth quarter was wild with the matchup of Beckham and Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, leading to big plays by Beckham, an ejection of Giants center Weston Richburg and a personal foul against Norman for a big hit on Sterling Shepard.

In the end, Washington made the big plays in avoiding the 0-3 start. Only three teams since 1990 have made the playoffs after losing three in row to start the season.

The Giants had 11 penalties 128 yards, including a third-down hit to the helmet by Olivier Vernon that kept the Redskins' game-winning drive alive.

Shane Vereen scored on a 1-yard run, Manning threw a 23-yard TD to Shepard and Orleans Darkwa scored on a 2-yard run for New York. Josh Brown kicked two short field goals, the last a 30-yarder that gave New York a 27-26 lead with 7:53 to play (see full recap).

Vikings stop Newton, snap Panthers' home win streak
CHARLOTTE, N.C.  -- The Minnesota Vikings keep finding ways to overcome injuries --and keep finding ways to win football games.

Sam Bradford threw a touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph, Marcus Sherels returned a punt for a score and the Vikings snapped the Carolina Panthers' 14-game home winning streak 22-10 on Sunday.

The Vikings put the clamps on Cam Newton, intercepting the league's reigning MVP three times and getting eight sacks, one of those resulting in a safety by Danielle Hunter. The eight sacks were the second-most ever against Newton.

"We have a great team -- the best team I have been a part of," said Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, who had three sacks. "We come from every area on the field and we get sacks."

Said Newton: "They were dictating to us after they got the momentum."

The Vikings improved 3-0 despite losing running back Adrian Peterson and offensive tackle Matt Kalil to injuries last week. They lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the preseason.

The Panthers were averaging 42 points per game in their last three home games, but could do little after bolting to a 10-0 lead. The Vikings held Carolina wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess without a catch.

"For him not to have any touches is baffling," Newton said of Benjamin. "We have to find ways" to get him the ball.

Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said the Vikings focus was on shutting down Benjamin.

"We just knew where Benjamin was the whole time," Munnerlyn said. "Funchess, we weren't worried about him. It was Kelvin Benjamin. Me personally, I think No. 17 (Funchess) is not that good, so we weren't really worried about him." (see full recap)

Bills bounce back with win over Cardinals
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.  -- LeSean McCoy scored twice and safety Aaron Williams returned a botched field-goal snap 53 yards for a touchdown in leading the Buffalo Bills to a 33-18 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor also scored on a 20-yard run at a time the Rex Ryan-coached Bills spent the past week taking the brunt of criticism after opening the season 0-2.

The win also came on the heels of Ryan firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman and replacing him with running backs coach Anthony Lynn.

McCoy scored on 24- and 5-yard runs, and finished with 110 yards rushing after combining for just 117 in his first two games. Taylor had 76 yards rushing, including a 49-yarder, the longest by a quarterback in team history.

Ryan's defense also bounced back after allowing 493 yards in 37-31 loss to the New York Jets on Sept. 15. The Bills limited Arizona to 348 yards and intercepted Carson Palmer on each of Arizona's final four possessions.

Stephon Gilmore had two interceptions.

Arizona (1-2) unraveled a week after a 40-7 win over Tampa Bay, and had a five-game road winning streak snapped going back to last season (see full recap).

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Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

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The Associated Press

Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

NEW YORK — The clubhouse mood following the Phillies17-0 loss to the Mets Sunday was somber, in part because of the disastrous game that had just wrapped up, but also because of the tragic news of Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez’s death in a boating accident early Sunday morning.

“It was rough. People are devastated. I didn’t even know him and I was crushed,” Phillies starter Jake Thompson said. “I can only imagine how that clubhouse feels. That’s something that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, to deal with something of that magnitude.”

Both teams paused for a moment of silence before Sunday’s game and the Mets taped a jersey bearing Fernandez’s name and number onto their dugout wall.

“This morning, that was quite a surprise,” manager Pete Mackanin said of the atmosphere of the day. “I don’t think it affected the players once the game started. It was such bad news this morning that everybody was kind of melancholy.”

Fernandez had built a strong track record against the Phillies in his young career, amassing a 2.88 ERA in six starts.

“It’s kind of cliché to say but you look at the start of his career and he could have been a Hall of Famer,” Thompson said.

Asked how he would remember facing Fernandez, Mackanin was succinct.

“He was a helluva pitcher,” he said.

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