Jonathan Lewis: “It’s a happy moment but I’d rather sit on the bench and win than make my debut and we win or draw.“ (Michael Lewis/Front Row Soccer Photo)

By Michael Lewis

Front Row Soccer Editor

BRONX — As he stood on the sidelines at Yankee Stadium waiting to make his professional debut on a cold and dreary Saturday afternoon, Jonathan Lewis admitted he felt nervous.

“It was definitely nerve-wracking but it was more just because the game was tied and I was coming on to try and help make a difference,” the New York City FC rookie said.

Lewis came on for Jack Harrison in the 79th minute of City’s 1-1 draw with the Montreal Impact.

Before he entered the match that was played in blustery conditions, head coach Patrick Vieira gave his young forward some instructions.

“Bring energy and just run at the guy so it was obviously nerve-wracking,” Lewis said. “But I’m happy and I’ll do better when I come out next time.”

Fresh off the United States’ CONCACAF Under-20 Championship triumph, Lewis might have been his own toughest critic. He did not think he played up to his capability in his first game.

“I felt like I pressured the guy but I didn’t do what I normally can do as running at players and getting in behind,” he said, “but it’ll get better as the year goes by.

“The only way I can look at it is up from here. So obviously, it starts now with a few minutes. I’ll do more doing better when I come on so as a team we’re definitely going to go up from here.”

The third overall pick in this year’s MLS SuperDraft, Lewis neither stood out or embarrassed himself on the field in the 11 minutes plus three minutes of stoppage time he was in. It’s difficult to gain possession of the ball in that short amount of time.

“I think the game was just crazy,” he said. “We were trying to go long and just get the ball in the box it was like playing hot potato kind of. So definitely with a game with more cushion I’ll get involved more and have a lot more fun. Today was definitely hectic.”

Still, the 5-7, 150-lb. Lewis called his debut “fun.”

In fact, he gave reporters a little insight about himself and how he views his MLS side.

“At the end of the day we have to win so that’s what we’re all here to do,” he said. “It’s a happy moment but I’d rather sit on the bench and win than make my debut and we win or draw.“

The Plantation, Fla. must wait until April 8 (4 p.m. kickoff) until he can see more action, when the Blues visit D.C. United at RFK Stadium in the nation’s capital.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at