Jack McInerney has changed teams four times in the last four seasons, an MLS tour that has seen him play on both coasts and in two countries.
But the club he has always been most curious about is the Galaxy, the one he joined 11 days ago.
“Throughout the world, people look at the Galaxy as an elite team. If you ask someone to name an MLS team, they’re going to say the Galaxy,” he said. “So it’s sweet to have this opportunity.”
McInerney suited up with his new team for the first time Saturday, starting the game with the Philadelphia Union on the bench. He doesn’t figure to stay on the sidelines long, though, because the Galaxy didn’t get a goal from a forward in open play through the first seven games, a problem McInerney was brought aboard to fix.
“Jack McInerney is a guy that has proven [he can] score goals,” coach Curt Onalfo said.
In fact he had 43 in 167 MLS games entering Saturday, including 36 before his 24th birthday, the second-most in league history by a player that young. That, however, has raised questions about his itinerant career — namely why a young, talented goal scorer hasn’t been able to find a permanent home.
“A combination of a lot of things,” answered McInerney, who has bounced from Philadelphia to Montreal to Columbus and finally to Portland. Since 2013, he has finished a season with the team he was with at the start just once.
An injury cost him his job in Portland, where he started just eight times last season. In Montreal, the addition of Didier Drogba pushed him to the sideline and the need for salary-cap relief pushed him out the door. The idea to leave Columbus after two months was his own, McInerney said.
But every time he’s left a team, there’s been another one waiting to welcome him in.
“One team trades you, it just means another team wanted you,” he said.
It took a little longer for him to be wanted this spring. Because the contract McInerney signed with the Timbers guarantees him $325,000 this year, according to figures released by the players union, no one claimed him when his was first placed on waivers on March 1.
But once every club passed, the Galaxy were able to step up claim him under the league’s “first-come, first-served” waiver procedure, with just $65,000 of the salary he’ll get from MLS counting against the club’s cap, the team said.
That would be money well spent if McInerney matches the career-high 12 goals he scored for Philadelphia in 2013. He’s been trending the other way, though, scoring just 11 times total since 2014. His playing time has fallen as well, from a career-high 25 starts in 2013 to 23 over the last three seasons combined.
But he’s promised not to be overlooked by the Galaxy, making it a point to be the first one on the training field and one of the last ones off each day.
“I’ve always been like that,” he said Thursday, shuffling off the field after many of his teammates had already left. “Throughout my career I’ve just wanted to score goals, so I’d come out and shoot.”
If he can do that here, the Galaxy just may ask him to unpack his bags and stay a while.