Young Georgia Star Signs MLS Contract.

Jack McInerney has wanted to be a professional soccer player ever since he joined Coach Steve Gummer’s Under-12 boys team at Cobb FC in suburban Atlanta.

He has realized the first steps in fulfilling that dream by becoming one of the top forwards in the U.S. national player pool system, and by signing a Generation adidas contract with Major League Soccer.

He’s spent the last two years in Bradenton, FL in the U.S. U17 Residency program, and was the leading scorer for the U.S. team in both the CONCCAF qualifying last spring and the FIFA U17 World Cup during the summer.

He’s always seemed to have a knack of scoring goals, even in the 12s.

“I noticed I was scoring the goals and the way people would talk to me after games,” he told Robert Ziegler, for a Top Drawer Soccer article. “I guess I was standing out. (Gummer) pushed me and he always talked about me needing to be a complete player. I kept pushing toward that and then I made residency.”

He tested the professional waters in Europe with a one-week trail with the Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem, but when the offer came from MLS he signed. The experience in Holland only strengthened his resolve to began a professional career right away.

“My goal the whole time was to play in Europe, and I still want to go there someday,” he told Ziegler. “I wanted to go there and show myself and play the best that I can.

“Coming back I knew how it was to play against professionals over there. Even though I’m not going to play in Europe I would still like to go there.”

Even though going to Bradenton meant leaving home at age 14, he credits the U.S. U17 Residency program for his continued development and the cornerstone of realizing his dream of being able to turn professional.

“Going to residency is probably the best decision I ever made,” he said. “There’s nowhere else in the U.S. you can play those tough games at that speed of play. It meant some sacrifices but it was definitely worth it.”

He’s well aware that he’ll need to step up his growth and development as a player to have a successful professional career. Numerous young players have struggled to get playing time after turning professional, especially now that there is no longer a reserve system within MLS.

He says he’s willing to do whatever it takes.

“I couldn’t tell you that (I’ll start), but I know myself and I push myself every day,” he said. “Even if I don’t start for the first 20 games I’ll still push myself in practice to earn a spot. It may not come right away but eventually it will.”

He and a number of his U17 teammates recently completed a U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team training camp with Coach Thomas Rongen in California.

He’s part of the future for the U.S. national team program, and is a candidate for a slot on the roster for another training camp in January and a tournament in Mexico.

He’ll also find out where he’ll begin his professional career when he is selected in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, which will be held January ? at the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia.

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