Jack Harrison: “It’ll just take some getting used to if I am going to be playing there in the future. I’m really happy playing anywhere.” (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX — He has a ways to go before he becomes a polished player, but Jack Harrison still can be dangerous, even if he is being played of position.
In New York City FC’s 2-1 comeback win over the Seattle Sounders Saturday, Harrison performed at central mid and set up the winning goal.
“I don’t mind playing in the center,” he said. “I’ve played it in the past, obviously not at the professional level until today since I usually play wide.
“It’ll just take some getting used to if I am going to be playing there in the future. I’m really happy playing anywhere.”
After all, Harrison is 20-years-old and a regular with City. He has scored six goals and assisted on four others. His latest assist came in the 77th minute Saturday. He did some whirling and faking on the right side of the penalty area – he usually works on the right side — to work himself free just so he could strike a cross to the far side of the net to a waiting and unmarked Villa who slotted it home for the game-winner.
“I knew after David had crossed the ball to me initially he’d be on the back post, so I figured that’s where the space would be and I freed myself up some space and I managed to get a cross off and David finished it off perfectly,” Harrison said.
As good as the Englishman was on the scoring sequence, head coach Patrick Vieira felt there was plenty of room for improvement.
“This is part of the game that I think Jack needs to improve because he’s got the technical quality and vision to make the assists,” he said. “He needs to improve on decision making when he’s around the box, but he’s still young and developing. He’s a much better player than he was last year and he’ll be a better player next year.”
No doubt. Harrison’s decision making has improved since his promising rookie campaign in 2016.
“I think just being more calm and collected has helped a lot,” he said. “Last year I was a bit immature in the box. I just wanted to go straight to goal and finish as quick as possible and it’s important to kind of take time and figure out what’s around you and what kind of options you have.”
NYCFC will have an opportunity avenge its elimination in the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup against the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena Saturday.
“Yeah, it was disappointing to lose there, but we knew we had to get over that one and get ready for today’s game and that’s what we did,” Harrison said. “We went down, but we were able to come together as a team and pull out a victory. We’re excited to see the Red Bulls again next game.”