Rookie Jack Harrison scored his first goal for NYCFC Thursday night in the Bronx, however the Blues still cannot consistently find the back of the net, nor can they win at home.
His story so far is almost perfectly fitting. Jack Harrison was drafted by the Chicago Fire, then traded to New York City FC after formerly playing for the local Manhattan Soccer Club, was injured in his first day of camp, made his debut against the Red Bulls and in his first career start, scores his first career MLS goal.
Unfortunately, that was the only highlight for NYCFC in their 3-2 loss to Real Salt Lake Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
“It’s been a great week,” Harrison said after the match. “It was obviously nice to get a first goal. I was a bit lucky with it, with it getting a deflection and all, but I was still happy to just go out there and fortunate enough to get my first start.”
Harrison played for just over 30 minutes in his debut in the 7-0 disaster against the Red Bulls two weeks ago. He did not play last Sunday against Orlando City.
The 19-year-old rookie was clearly the star of the match, making key runs into the box and on the wings trying to do anything possible to help NYCFC on the attack.
“I wasn’t surprised at all with Jack’s performance,” head coach Patrick Vieira said. “Jack is a really talented football player and he really understands the game. I took him off because he started to get tired, it was his first full game. I am really proud of him tonight.”
His first goal came in the 56th minute off of a deflection off RSL defender Justin Glad, freezing goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Harrison had a few chances in the first half at tallying his first goal, however those chances were either stopped by Rimando or went wide of net.
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While he did that as the Blues botched chance after chance to score the opening goal, and then the equalizing ones, even he knows that he has a way to go in his development.
“I know in my game, I can always do better,” he said. “I’m looking to look over that with the coaches and just see what I can do better, but I think it was a pretty good performance.
“But obviously, I still have a lot to work on and I’m gonna do that.”
Harrison admitted to messing up his defensive mark on the first of the three goals by Real Salt Lake.
After Harrison’s goal, RSL responded just three minutes later on an equalizing goal by Yura Mosisyan, who fought right through the NYCFC backline, slotting his shot just past goalkeeper Josh Saunders. They took the lead on a perfect shot to the far post by Juan Manuel Martinez in the 67th minute and went up 3-1 on an own goal by NYCFC centerback Frederic Brillant.
“Yeah, you know they had a ball in the midfield,” defender Jason Hernandez explained on the first goal.
“Kinda not a lot of pressure, so I knew they were going to Yura. I followed him and he made a move and I stumbled a little bit and with a guy like that, that’s all he needs. They had some dangerous chances with Plata breaking through and I was able to make some plays, but on the one that counted, he got a half step and that’s why he is who he is. He [Yura] can make you pay for it.”
“That goal is particularly on me. You know I like my chances with most guys in the league in that position, but tonight I got beat and unfortunately we couldn’t rally and make it up, so we finished one goal short tonight.”
Once again, NYCFC was unable to find the back of the net, especially when it counted the most. The Blues tallied a total of 19 shots (six on-goal), scoring on Harrison’s goal in the 56th minute and a penalty kick in the 87th minute. Villa nearly scored the equalizer late into stoppage time, however his shot went just wide of net, helping preserve the win for Real Salt Lake.
The loss at home drops NYCFC to a league-worst 1-3-5 at home.
The constant struggles at home, which were once considered an advantage for NYCFC have Vieira simply baffled.
“I have been asking myself the same question as well,” he explained. “I think when I analyze all of our home games there are both positives and negatives. The positives are the way that we play football and the chances that we are able to create. I think that today we did that, our movement was really good. Then on the other side, there is the fact that we did not score.”
“We do not score enough with all of the chances that we create. We have to change something. For me it’s the mental aspect of the game and we have to be more humble. I think that the team has showed too much arrogance and too much confidence, but we will get that straightened away.”
NYCFC (4-5-6; 18 points) has only taken away eight of a possible 27 points at home, something that could seriously hurt them in Fall’s playoff push if they’re trying to sneak their way above the red line again. Currently they’re barely holding onto the fourth spot in the Eastern table, however that is expected to change since everyone else in the conference has games in hand.
The Blues have the next two weeks to figure out whatever it is they need to do to turn things around. They’ll take on the New York Cosmos in the fourth round of U.S. Open Cup play on June 15th at Fordham. Last year, NYCFC lost to the Cosmos in penalty kicks after they blew a 2-0 lead in the second half after a first half brace by Kwadwo Poku.