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Jack McGlynn’s “special left foot” leads to first MLS goal


Jack McGlynn helped the U.S. Under-20 men’s national team earn World Cup Qualification earlier this summer and since playing a major part in Mikey Varas’ squad, the Philadelphia Union midfielder has skyrocketed into a key contributor at club level.

McGlynn made his third-consecutive start on Saturday night and celebrated his first MLS goal in style as the Union brushed aside the Houston Dynamo 6-0 at Subaru Park. His first-half free kick goal was just the latest glimpse of McGlynn’s sensational left foot, while his technical ability also helped the homegrown midfielder register his first assist of the season.

The 19-year-old delivered a strong 90 minutes in Jose Martinez’s absence on Saturday night, showing once again he can contribute for the Eastern Conference leaders.

“I’ve talked about how special his left foot is,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “You can’t teach that. It’s God-given and it’s a talent that not many people possess.

“But for a young kid to step up in that spot…that’s the perfect spot to hit a free kick because it’s in the middle, so now the goalkeeper has to respect both sides,” he added. “You can tell where their wall was set up, where Jack was going to try to go with it, and he hit a perfect free kick.”

The Union rolled to a fifth-consecutive league win on Saturday night, but McGlynn’s free kick garnered most of the attention. Michael Nelson replaced veteran starter Steve Clark due to a first-half injury, but watched as McGlynn’s curling left-footed strike nestled into the bottom corner.

Leading goalscorer Daniel Gazdag normally takes the free kicks for the Union, but McGlynn was set up perfectly with where the foul was called on the field. He made zero mistake with his attempt, tossing his name into the hat for future opportunities to deliver from free kick chances.

“I practice them basically every day after training,” said McGlynn. “All the guys know I’m capable of hitting it, so they gave me the opportunity. Thank God it went in. It’s about time I scored.”

Not only did McGlynn celebrate his first MLS goal, but he worked tirelessly in the Union’s 4-4-2 set up, drawing three fouls, winning four duels, and completing 89% of his passes (34/38). McGlynn also capped off his evening by setting up fellow homegrown Quinn Sullivan for the Union’s sixth and final goal of the night, which moved the East leaders to 40 goals scored this season.

McGlynn excelled with the USMNT U-20’s this summer alongside club teammates Sullivan and Paxten Aaronson, and that confidence has carried over to club level this summer. Now McGlynn will aim to remain in Curtin’s starting lineup as the Union kick off a five-match August schedule at FC Cincinnati on Aug. 6.

“His composure is special for a kid as young as he is,” Curtin said. “He’s clever enough to get out of a tight spot with that left foot too. You sprint at him, he has a couple outs in his game to get away from pressure. Then if they do lay off him, he’s able to play that ball in behind. So he’s able to hurt you in a lot of different ways.”


  1. Excited for all the U20 players, who participated in the tourney getting the youth bump! (Standard procedure for all US players the last 12 years after U20 tourneys, if you’ve been paying attention.) If you’ve also been paying attention, McGlynn has all the characteristics of a LB, at this stage of his development. Kai Wagner is there, so he’s getting time as a MF, because he’s not better than Kai. It’s also obvious the young man needs weight training. Lower body in particular, and in help of a speed coach. It’s evident in his running style and movement. He’s change of direction is John Brooks level of slowness, and he’s not quick enough to keep up with shorter players in the midfield. He was trying to hold and grab people, every time he got beat in this match. It’s fine, if you’re Joe Scally, playing fullback in a friendly, but not what you want from your 6. While I’m happy for left footed players getting some shine, this Dynamo team is very poor, that’s if you care enough to have been paying attention. His left footed passing is keeping him above water playing in the MLS, for now. When he’s playing against his age group, none of this matters. He’s bigger than most his age, so strength & technical ability is better than competition his age. When he’s playing against adults, his weaknesses are obvious. If Busio played as 6, against THIS Dynamo squad, people would hail him as the 2nd coming of Pirlo! People who say McGlynn has physical limitations, aren’t talking out the rear end, it’s because we’ve actually watched him play in a tournament and multiple matches.

    • Characteristics of LB? Uhm… I don’t think so. Watched him play multiple times. His speed of thought and technique is far superior to anyone else. I see a player with an engine and will only continue to get better and stronger as he fills out his frame. He has played against adults he seems to be just fine.

    • Genuine question I haven’t seen Union since the U20s returned. If McGlynn isn’t athletic enough to be CM how is he going to stay with wingers as a LB or did I misunderstand your comment? Also isn’t he an 8 not a 6 Flach would be the 6 for Union in their 4-4-2 Diamond? I’ve heard him compared to Alex Mendez who had a similar issue post U20 period. With changes in the game can you have a one way player? Mendez has allegedly improved his defensive work rate but it’s hard to find broadcasts of Vizela so I haven’t seen him.
      On a different note how has Giaocchini looked for your Orlando squad? Obviously he’s in preseason form but what’s your take.

  2. People say he has physical limitations. I haven’t seen that as a problem for him at all. He covers ground really well and has the technical skill to get out of most situations. Kid has a bright future.


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