In their relatively short MLS careers, neither Jack McInerney nor Andrew Wenger have exactly lived up to the sky-high expectations that have followed them. Now, they'll both get a chance to get fresh starts after the young forwards were traded for one another on Friday.
Of the two, McInerney has had the much more productive career. The 21-year-old is coming off a pair of seasons in which he scored a combined 20 goals for the Philadelphia Union. Last year, he seemed poised for a breakout after scoring 10 goals in his first 14 matches and earning his first invite to United States national team camp that included a call-up during the Gold Cup.
Rather than give him a boost, though, McInerney's season fell apart shortly after. At one point, McInerney went four months without scoring and was benched before bagging a couple goals as a substitute during the Union's final three games. McInerney has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start this year, as well, scoring one goal but failing to convert several golden opportunities.
There have also been rumblings that he's not inclined to re-sign with the Union, who were paying him about $190,000 in 2013 according to MLS Players' Union documents.
McInerney's contract status may, in fact, be the reason he was deemed expendable and seemingly swapped for cents on the dollar.
While Wenger was the No. 1 pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, he has done little to live up to that status. The 23-year-old was lauded for his versatility, establishing himself as one of the top forwards and top center backs in college. But Wenger has failed to become a regular starter, as he's moved from the midfield to forward and even dabbled in defense. Over parts of three seasons, he has just six goals and three assists. Perhaps more telling, Wenger still hasn't played 2,000 minutes and has just 18 starts.
The Union are surely hoping that the Pennsylvania native will benefit from consistent playing time, and Wenger may well immediately become a starter on a team that is pretty thin at forward. What makes the trade even more head-scratching is that Wenger made more than $220,000 last year and has reportedly graduated from Generation adidas, meaning he'd be hitting the Union's salary-cap at the full amount.