In January of 2016, New York City FC traded their fourth overall pick and allocation money to the Chicago Fire for the player selected first overall, Jack Harrison.
So far, it’s fair to say it’s worked out.
“We worked hard to pick him from the draft last year, because we saw that talent,” said NYCFC head coach Patrick Viera. “We worked well we worked really hard to improve his talent.”
21 months later, Harrison joined the double-digit club by notching a tenth goal for the first time of his MLS career in a 1-0 road win against the Montreal Impact. All of this time after the fact sitting in the conference room at Stade Saputo, Viera said of the acquisition: “This one is a good one.”
The young Englishman wasn’t familiar with the North American term sophomore slump. However, he did hear that second year players tend to have a rougher time in their respective leagues. But after having a 4-goal season on his rookie year, he didn’t get tied down by the trickiness of a second year.
“I did hear that rumor as well but I think [that] it’s a myth,” said Harrison. “Everything is in your hands. I think that everyone that goes into their second year is always up to them. Even if you’re not playing well you can always work hard and that’s what I’m thinking in my mind: ‘If I work hard, I’ll [get] the benefits one way or another.’”
For Viera, the fact that Harrison has doubled down on his work ethic given his talent and “just wanting to be a good football player,” is what made him better.
“What I love about Jack is the passion and the love he’s got for the game. He’s always the first one at training and the last one to leave,” said Viera. “He just wants to have the ball at his feet and kick it around, play with the players around him. I think that some of the top players that we have on our team is making him learn how to be a good professional.”
In his first two years at NYCFC, Harrison has already had the opportunity to play with the likes of Frank Lampard, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo. Being able to train and play with with these all-star teammates has had its effect of the 20 year-old.
“It’s been very valuable. I’m trying to learn as much as I can with the players surrounding me and the staff on what I can work and improve,” said Harrison. “I know I still have a long way to go so I’m willing to do whatever it takes to improve myself and get to the next step.”
Heading into a playoff run, NYCFC can enjoy the fact that Harrison can pick up the scoring in the event that Villa is resting.
“I think it’s important for us not to rely on [Villa],” said Harrison. “We have great depth in the team and it’s good that we don’t have to rely on him.”
Viera who guarantees that his team will “be focussed, working hard and trying to win the next game,” in order to build momentum for the playoffs, thinks Harrison has his part to play. The second leading scorer on the team has a chance to shine alongside the team’s stars in an eventual NYCFC playoff run.
“I’m not surprised for the goal that he scored [against the Impact] because I think he’s got the talent to do it,” said Viera. “But I think I want more from Jack.”