Jack Harrison (left) celebrates his winning goal with David Villa. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX — With the Fourth of July just about on us, it’s easy to think about the USA’s 241st birthday, fireworks, apple pie and the national team.
Especially who’s going to put the ball into the back of the net for the ole Red, White and Blue, now and in the future.
Head coach Bruce Arena has plenty of attacking options from which to choose, including Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, Christian Pulisic and now perhaps even Dominic Dwyer after he tallied in his U.S. debut, a 2-1 win over Ghana Saturday.
But like that old adage in baseball, you can never have enough goal-scorers or depth at that particular position.
Which brings us to one Jack Harrison.
Earlier this year, the New York City FC forward was granted his green card, an important step toward becoming a U.S. citizen.
He has become a vital member of City’s strike force, supplementing and complementing the great David Villa (11 goals, six assists). Game past the season’s midway point, the 20-year-old Englishman has eight goals and five assists. If he continues at this pace, Harrison will finish around 15 goals.
Someone’s got to be watching, right?
So far, not so good, at least not from England and its Under-21 team.
“I’m quite surprised that he didn’t receive any calls for at least the under 21’s because he at least needs to be looked at,” NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira said.
Even if Harrison plays for the England U-21 side, he still would be eligible to play for the Americans’ full team.
“It’s always nice to be wanted,” Harrison said after last week’s 3-1 home win over Minnesota United. “I definitely appreciate them wanting me to play for their national team and it would be an honor to do that. But that’s something for later down the line. I just got my green card so it’s still going to take some time to get citizenship.”
And that, unfortunately could take a while.
“It’s a little bit, but at the same time I’m trying to do everything I can for this club,” Harrison said. “They’ve done so much for me. I can only honor that back as well. My focus is here right now.”
And his focus has been spot on. Entering Wednesday night’s away match at Vancouver Whitecaps, Harrison has a pair of consecutive game-winning goals under his belt.
He has raised his game.
“I’ve taken a lot more time to look over my game and try how to figure out what I can do to be better and what I can do to be more unpredictable,” he said. With the help of my teammates and my coaching staff, I’ve been able to do that.”
City (10-5-3, 33 points) takes a four-game winning streak into B.C. Place for the 10 p.m. match-up as it sits in third place in the Eastern Conference behind leader Chicago Fire (11-3-4, 37) and second-place Toronto FC (10-3-5, 35).
“It’s a good run,” Harrison said. “I think we’re really coming together as a team right now, the coaching staff and the team. You can see it when we’re playing.”
And when Harrison is scoring as well.