Jack Harrison has scored eight goals and assisted on six others for NYCFC this year. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
PURCHASE, N.Y. — He is the second leading goal-scorer on the team and has played well against the Red Bulls. But that doesn’t necessarily guarantee New York City FC forward Jack Harrison a starting role in Friday’s Hudson River Derby.
Harrison was pulled for Khiry Shelton in the 61st minute of City’s 2-1 home win over the New England Revolution Sunday night.
“We have to take care of Jack because he has been playing a lot of games since the beginning of the season,” head coach Patrick Vieira said after practice at SUNY-Purchase Wednesday. “I will just have to manage his games in the next few weeks. So it is good. There is an international week coming soon as well. We will see about the game on Friday. But it is not sure that he will get in.”
An interesting stat: Harrison has played the second most minutes of an NYCFC field player this year — 2,080, 15 minutes more than striker David Villa. Center back Alex Callens leads the way at 2,250.
The 20-year-old Harrison has scored eight goals and assisted on six others for NYCFC. He also has found the net since against the Red Bulls, most recently in the 2-0 City win at Red Bull Arena June 24.
“The past is the past. We’re looking ahead,” Vieira said. “I have players around who’s doing well and then it will be a decision that I will make tomorrow. Jack is in a really good place. I just have a feeling that he has been playing a lot of football. but that doesn’t mean he not start on Friday, but I have the option of other players as well who can play.”
Harrison missed the first 2 1/2 months of his rookie season with a pelvic injury before connecting for four goals and seven assists in 21 appearances in 2016. He said he was healthy after playing in all 25 matches this season, starting but one.
“Everything’s fine,” he said. “Just felt a little bit tired the last game. If we can push through this one, get a little break and we can rejuvenate then.”
After the derby, NYCFC gets a week off due to a FIFA international break because of World Cup qualifying.