Jack McInerney finding a groove with Impact

The 21-year-old striker has scored four goals in his past four matches for Montreal as he continues to settle in following a trade from Philadelphia.
WASHINGTON — Coping without the services of Marco Di Vaio is no easy task for the Montreal Impact. But as far as insurance policies go, they could certainly do worse than Jack McInerney.

Acquired in an April 4 trade that sent Andrew Wenger to the Philadelphia Union, McInerney has scored four goals in his past four games in all competitions with Di Vaio out injured.

After bagging a brace Wednesday in Montreal's 4-2 win over FC Edmonton that sent the Impact to the Canadian Championship final, McInerney scored again Saturday as his side claimed a 1-1 draw at D.C. United.

"For a striker, you get that first one and then the goals will come," McInerney said. "It's really about momentum and confidence. Right now they're coming for me, and hopefully I can keep it going for the team."

An MVP finalist who scored 20 goals last season, Di Vaio, between suspension and injury, has been limited to one tally in five appearances this year. Most recently, a hamstring ailment has kept him off the field since late April.

The Impact, of course, would prefer to deploy the two forwards together, either in a 4-4-2 or in a 4-2-3-1 with McInerney on the flank. Yet as the lone striker in Di Vaio's absence, McInerney has regained the type of form that earned him an All-Star nod and U.S. national team call-up last summer.

He hasn't been overpowering physically or scoring goals of particular beauty. In true poacher's fashion, the 21-year-old is just finding himself in opportune positions.

"Jack, he's a striker — he finds his moments," Impact coach Frank Klopas said. "He's always around the goal, and that's a very good sign. But now it's got to be about our ability with the other players to get him good service in good areas, because if you don't give service to a striker there's nothing he can do."

Montreal winger Justin Mapp, who played with the forward from 2010 to 2011 with Philadelphia, has set up McInerney's past three goals. Against United, Mapp raced to the end line before finding McInerney at the top of the 6-yard box for a quick two-touch finish.

With four assists in league play this season to go along with two in the Canadian Championship, Mapp has offered a dangerous blend of pace and creativity cutting in from the right flank.

In Klopas' words, the 29-year-old has been a "difference-maker" — with McInerney as the primary beneficiary.

"We're good friends off the field," McInerney said. "It's making the transition onto the field, and he's really getting the ball into good spots and making it easy for me."

After scoring 10 goals in 14 league games to start 2013, McInerney set the stage for his exit by notching just three in 21 subsequent matches for Philadelphia.

Although McInerney said he's still in the process of acclimating to the club and learning his new teammates' tendencies, the Tennessee native looks more at home in Quebec with every strike.

"He needs his confidence," Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins said. "Coming off a trade it's always good for a guy to find his feet and feel like he's a part of the team and contribute to the team. For him, we're thrilled and we want to keep him going."