By Craig Chamberlain
At 17, Jack McInerney is the youngest player on the Philadelphia Union and he is, by all accounts, living his dream. He is playing soccer at the highest levels. McInerney is among a select group of 21 players that are 17 years old or younger in Major League Soccer. And, judging by his performance so far, this Chattanooga, Tennessee native looks to become a core part of the club under the direction of Philadelphia Union coach Piotr Nowak.
“Always wanting to be the best player you can be,” that’s the mantra Jack McInerney trains by. Sacrifice, commitment, moving away from home too chase your dreams, these are just a few examples of the level of commitment it took for McInerney to climb his way through the ranks of US Youth Soccer.
McInerney started playing travel soccer at the age of seven in Georgia for the Cobb Soccer Club. His unique abilities made him a standout and in 2004 he was encouraged to try out for the Georgia 91 Olympic Development Program (
McInerney was now playing with the top players in the Regional system and he had his sights set on U.S. National team. This time he was not going to be disappointed. In 2007 he made the U.S. Under-15 Men’s National team then later that same year was invited to attend the Residency Program for the U.S. Under-17 National team where he would continue to impress coaches.
The Residency Program is the pinnacle of U.S. Youth Soccer. The best players from around the country train for the Under-17 World Cup while living on campus at the
“We played, trained and went to school everyday with the same group of guys” said McInerney. “It’s a big sacrifice being away from home for two years.”
McInerney scored two goals in the Under-17 World Cup and was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America National Youth Player of the Year in 2009.
McInerney’s hard work, determination and sacrifice rewarded him with the chance to become eligible in the
“I would just say if soccer is what you want to do for a living then the professional life is the way you go,” said McInerney. “This is a way of getting better sooner and getting much more experience under your belt as opposed to turning professional at a later age. A down side of it is that you may lack in other aspects of your education, but ultimately the decision is just personal preference.”
McInerney decided to turn professional and was drafted in the first round – 7th overall in the 2010
McInerney is one of just a small percentage of players who make it to the professional level. Of all the youth soccer players across the country, the odds of them reaching the