May 15, 2013, 11:15 AM EDT
Landon Donovan and Jack McInerney don’t know each other personally.
But Donovan is certainly paying attention to what McInerney is doing this season.
On Tuesday afternoon, Donovan and his Los Angeles Galaxy teammates trained at PPL Park, a day ahead of their much-anticipated clash with the Union tonight at 7:30 p.m. (Comcast SportsNet). And I got a chance to ask perhaps the greatest American soccer player ever about McInerney, the Union’s 20-year-old rising star who currently leads MLS in scoring with seven goals.
Here’s Donovan’s interesting perspective on McInerney’s goal-scoring prowess and what that could mean for the future of American soccer:
“It’s encouraging for all of us that care about this game. He’s scored all types of goals from all different spots on the field in all different ways. And he scored a goal against us last year that not many people in this league – or perhaps in the world – can score with a clever little back flick. You can tell he has something special in front of goal. And you’ve seen it this year. He just needed his chance. John Hackworth has given him his chance and he’s flourishing.”
What was the world-class goal Donovan was referring to from last year? Here, watch it below. Then watch it again. (And also note what appears to be McInerney looking ticked off at the 0:20 mark after former teammate Freddy Adu runs over to congratulate Michael Farfan instead of him.)
I also spoke about McInerney with the Galaxy’s Mike Magee, who currently trails the Union striker by one goal in the MLS Golden Boot race. And like Donovan, Magee painted a picture of a special and unique player:
“I think what I’ve noticed between now and the past is the things he does when he’s not scoring goals, when he’s away from the ball. It’s not just that he’s scoring goals. He’s fighting for the team and a lot of times he winds up in defensive spots. And he’s creating. And it’s good to see in this league. I feel like there’s kind of been a void of players like him who kind of come through and understand the game as well as him and just be a pure striker. It’s good to see. I hope he takes the week off. But needless to say, he’s a guy that there are few and far between of in our country.”
High praise indeed from two of the league’s best players.
Here are other tidbits from the Galaxy’s training session at PPL Park:
- Star forward Robbie Keane, who’s been hampered by a sprained ankle, looked sharp and appears poised to return to the lineup for what will be his first game in Philly. “It’s a nice stadium and the field is in very good condition,” he said. “It’s a game I’m looking forward to. I’ve been out a few weeks, so it’s nice to be back.”
- Although he already has six goals this year, Magee had no interest in talking – or even thinking – about the MLS Golden Boot race.
- When asked about his apparent snub for the upcoming US national team’s World Cup qualifers, Donovan said, “I can think about it and dream about it but the reality is I have to play well here and eventually maybe I’ll get my chance again.”
- A couple of former Union players were back on their old stomping grounds, with Chandler Hoffman peppering the net occupied by goalkeeper Brian Perk. Hoffman, who was traded by the Union shortly before the season, has yet to appear in a league match for the Galaxy but said he’s happy to be playing near where he went to college at UCLA. Hey, he lives just a few blocks from the beach, so things can’t be too bad, right?
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com, CSNPhilly.com and The 700 Level. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.
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