DIVING INTO DIVING DILEMMA
"I was behind him, trying to make my run, and my head ran right into the back of his," McInerney said.
McInerney eventually scored a stoppage-time goal that helped the Union dispatch New England. His aggressiveness led to the goal, with McInerney putting one in the back of the net off a header --- not five minutes after getting a shiner.
Still, McInerney's aggressiveness begs the question, 'How much is too much?'
McInerney, second-year man Gabriel Farfan and veteran Freddy Adu each have been booked this season for what a referee has ruled 'simulation.' That's 'diving,' for those who don't speak Soccer-ese. On all three occasions, those players were in the box and -- whether by perceived contact, anticipated contact or actual contact -- went to the turf and picked up a yellow card.
McInerney, in that win last weekend against New England, was dropped in the 57th minute, drawing a foul that led to an Adu penalty-kick tally. Twice this season, in both MLS play and friendly competition, rookie Antoine Hoppenot was tripped up and the Union earned penalty kicks on both.
But when do the negatives (like bookings, or a reputation for taking a dive) outweigh the positives (like the chance to pick up a PK as a result of getting an ankle clipped)?
"I don't think we're going to pull back," McInerney said Wednesday, at PPL Park. "Sometimes if you go down, it's kind of like -- after that -- you want to go down if there's contact. But we're not going to hold anything back or change the way we're playing just because we start to develop a thing around the league."
And that's not to say the Union have. There have been far-more criticized instances (like Charlie Davies and Alvaro Saborio, in the 2011 season) than those whistled as infractions against the Union. Additionally, the Union are 14th in the league in fouls drawn (with 240), while they're 8th in MLS in fouls committed (with 272).
"It's the referee's decision," McInerney said. "If there's a reputation going around the league, there's nothing we can do. We're just playing the way we feel comfortable."
Entering into evidence, Exhibit A:
And Exhibit B:
And finally Exhibit C:
Judge for yourselves, folks. Each one looks like it differs -- with McInerney taking the most contact, Farfan taking some but not nearly enough to result in hitting the deck and Adu didn't take any. He even told the media afterward that he anticipated contact and went down because of it.
In any case, aggressiveness on the attack can lead to goals. It can also lead to bookings and, worse, a negative reputation amongst peers. McInerney is aware of the risks and, as he said, he's not going to change.