Jack Harrison Is Shining Bright for NYCFC
Jun 29, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC midfielder Jack Harrison (11) celebrates his goal against Minnesota United with forward David Villa (7) and midfielder Thomas McNamara (15) during the second half at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

NYCFC’s attack has been excellent over the past few weeks, and Jack Harrison deserves his fair share of credit for that. 

NYCFC is back in the swing of things and a huge part of their recent run has to do with the outstanding play of Jack Harrison.

NYCFC battled back to defeat Minnesota 3-1 on Thursday night as they temporarily closed the gap on the top spot in the Eastern Conference to just two points.

After going behind early, the hosts missed multiple opportunities before Alex Callens’ close range finish leveled the score up shortly before half-time. Minutes after the intermission, Jack Harrison headed in to mark his eighth score of the season. Captain David Villa’s fine individual effort then put the match to bed.

After a slow start to their MLS campaign, NYC are now up and running. The victory was their fourth in a row, as well as their fifth in their previous seven MLS outings. Momentum appears to be on NYC’s side at the moment.

It’s not just a matter of results either, but the manner in which the results occur. The Yankee Stadium-based club have played some remarkable football over the past few weeks, highlighted by excellent attacking performances. Only once since their defeat to Salt Lake in May have they failed to score more than once in a match.

While the experience and talent of David Villa is without a doubt a factor in such a statistic, the rise of 20-year-old Jack Harrison is worth noting as well.

The midfielder’s attributes have been incredibly crucial to NYC’s impressive attack this season.

His movement often allows him to find himself in space, while his skill set and pace has troubled plenty of defenders this season. His style of play has also afforded Villa far more space and, as a result, the Spaniard has a far lighter burden in the attacking third.

These qualities may greatly impact the match but do not define results. However, Harrison delivers those results in the best way: end product, or to put it simply, goals. The Englishman already as twice as many as he did in just about as many games last season. Eight goals at this stage of the season is a solid tally, especially given his young age.  

The timing of these goals is worth recognition as well. He scored twice as his side defeated Columbus while also scoring in the Hudson River derby last weekend. As important as it is to perform throughout a season, the ability to step up in certain individual matches is of great significance, and Harrison has been terrific on both fronts throughout the first half of the season.

“I’m quite surprised that he didn’t receive any [international] calls, at least for the under-21s,” said head coach Patrick Vieira after the match. “He needs to be looked at.”

Though careers in the MLS don’t typically favor a player’s chances of featuring for an international side of England’s caliber, his omission from the U21 side is questionable. It’s difficult to see his absence from future international matches should his dominant performances continue.

Despite Vieira’s disagreement with the English FA’s refusal to offer Harrison a chance, some part of him must have been pleased that he has been able to field the midfielder over the past few weeks. However, he might want to ensure that he can depend on other members of his squad as Harrison’s performances could well book him a place on, at the very least, England’s U21 side in the near future.

At the moment, England’s loss is NYCFC’s gain. And NYCFC is taking full advantage of Jack Harrison while they can.

Alexander Puri is eighteen years of age and currently resides in Manhattan, where he has lived for his entire life. He plans to pursue media studies when he attends Boston University as a freshman this September. Alexander is a passionate soccer fan and supports Juventus, Liverpool FC, and NYCFC. He watches these clubs play on a regular basis and has written multiple articles about all three teams. He normally spends his weekends watching the English Premier League before participating in pickup-soccer games in numerous fields throughout the city. Outside of sports, Alexander takes great interest to science fiction and fantasy franchises and often reads comics and watches films of such genres. For any inquires, you can reach him at alexarjun24@gmail.com