Jack Harrison needed that rest during the international break. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX, N.Y. — Jack Harrison got a breather from the international break and the second-year pro paid it back to New York City FC and giving the team some breathing room in the MLS Eastern Conference standings Wednesday night.
The 20-year-old forward struck for the lone goal in NYCFC’s 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City, which gave the second-place side a six-point cushion over the Chicago Fire in the race to avoid the
“I think these last few weeks I’ve been putting a bit too much pressure on myself trying to create goals and assists for myself,” Harrison said afterwards at Yankee Stadium. “It got to me a bit so I kind of took this international break and reset myself, take a step back and look at the year. It took a lot of weight off my shoulders.”
And some weight off NYCFC’s shoulders as well. City played without several regulars for one reason or another, including injured captain and striker David Villa, defensive midfielder Alex Ring and forward Rodney Wallace, serving a yellow-card suspension, and Yangel Herrera, who had World Cup qualifying duty the night prior.
Harrison has played in 2,240 minutes this year, second most of an NYCFC field player and only behind center back Alexander Callens (2,430).
“I think a player like Jack who has played a ton of minutes, a young guy, it takes time to adjust to that workload,” said defender RJ Allen, who set up Harrison’s 85th-minute goal with a right-wing cross. “I think that break was in particular for him very good and it showed tonight.”
It was a special game in so many ways for Harrison. Not only did he tally his ninth goal of the season, his father watched him play for the first time with NYCFC. His dad came to the stadium last year, but Harrison picked p an injury.
“He just missed out last year, so this was his first time,” Harrison said. “I’m glad he was there to witness it.”
While Harrison was the goal-scoring hero, head coach Patrick Vieira knew the forward could improve his play.
“I don’t think that was his best game,” he said. “I think he made a lot of mistakes in the last 30 yards, I think his decision making wasn’t the best today. Of course, when you’ve got talent, you can open the game at any time during the game.”