3 min read
Jack Harrison, NYCFC’s most recent recruit, is proof that even the best players come from small beginnings. Raised in Bolton, Jack began showing a clear talent for football from an early age, and worked his way through Man United’s soccer academy system for seven years. From there, however, he decided to make the move across the pond, to the states, in order to capitalize on the rapidly developing football opportunities there. At the age of 14, Jack joined the Berkshire Boarding School in Sheffield, Massachusetts, where he impressed coaches, winning both the 2015 Gatorade National Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year and the Gatorade Massachusetts Soccer Player of the Year awards. He also was named NSCAA All-American twice during his time at Berkshire, and accumulated a massive 24 goals and 33 assists across his 3 seasons. He went on then to become the only college freshman to have made any of the three All-American teams, eventually opting to attend Wake Forest University. Among the honors he collected during his only year at the university was the Gatorade Player of the Year, a title he shares with fellow MLS players including Nick Garcia, and most recently, Lucas Mendes. However, it wasn’t until the 2016 MLS SuperDraft when Jack Harrison became a true household name in American soccer. Entering the draft as the youngest pick in MLS history, he was quickly chosen by Chicago Fire as their number one pick. After the Fire traded him over to NYC, he became their 4th overall pick, joining under team captain David Villa and manager Patrick Vieira. Although his time at New York City might be short so far (he made his debut just over a month ago, on 21st May 2016), he hasn’t failed to impress the coaching staff and fans alike. His professional debut came during the 4th ever Hudson River Derby, where NYCFC met their local rival, New York Red Bulls. Joining the game in the 57th minute when NYC were already 5-0 down, some may be disappointed. However, Harrison claims this took the pressure off and he was able to just go out and have fun, something manager Vieira has urged him to do. His individual performance in the game was described as a “silver lining” for NYC, after suffering an eventual 7-0 defeat. Since then, he has racked up 2 goals and 2 assists over 5 games, and both Villa and Vieira have nothing but praise for him. Villa, a World Cup winner himself, even claims he has “something important that only a few players have.” So what’s next for the young star? Amid the media storm that began, on both sides of the Atlantic, immediately following his debut, there are calls for England to recruit Harrison to represent his native country. However, he has also expressed interest in playing for the USA, as his adopted country, and has even said that eventually, he would like to play in the Premier League. Clearly, this young player has the world at his talented feet, and is determined to make the most of this huge opportunity.