Jack Harrison playing like cornerstone of New York City FC’s future

Jack Harrison has recorded four goals in eight games this season.
Jack Harrison has recorded four goals in eight games this season. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures

New York City FC may already have David Villa’s heir apparent.

Jack Harrison has shown flashes of his potential since debuting in 2016. But he put it on full display last week against the Columbus Crew in the best offensive performance of his career. The 20-year-old midfielder scored twice, including the game-winner, all with Villa sidelined by an illness.

Harrison got the scoring started for NYCFC (4-3-1, 13 points) just eight minutes into the game. With the score knotted at two in the 76th minute, Harrison struck once more, hustling to reach a loose ball just in time to give City the 3-2 win. The effort earned him MLS Player of the Week honors for the second of his career.

If this was a look into the future, fans shouldn’t be too concerned. In just his second year, the native of Englishman has shown no signs of a sophomore slump.

“Jack grew up as a player,” head coach Patrick Vieira told MLS.com after last week’s victory. “He’s getting better every day, every week because of the way he’s training and how he’s conducting himself in training.”

On a team that could use another star or two, Harrison has filled the void eight games into the season. He’s been red hot so far, compared with last year’s injury-ridden, stop-and-go start.

With four goals this season, he trails Villa by just one. Still, when it comes to understanding the importance of teamwork in soccer, Harrison is ahead of his years.

“I think it’s also important not to do too much,” Harrison told MLS.com. “I think [last Saturday] we showed that by working as a team we can be more effective that way. That’s key for us, going forward.”

Villa remains the team’s captain and undisputed leader, but there’s nothing wrong with having a successor waiting in the wings. City will forge ahead in 2017 with Villa leading the way and a key injury to Ronald Matarrita hampering its defense.

NYCFC returns to the pitch against the expansion Atlanta United FC on Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

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