NEW YORK – With every goal and every dance on the ball that puts fans on the edge of their seats, Jack Harrison’s legend grows, as does the thirst for United States fans to see him one day wear the red, white and blue.
That day, though, isn’t happening anytime soon.
While the young winger, who has scored eight goals this year, including back-to-back winners against the Red Bulls and Minnesota United FC, did just obtain a green card, the citizenship process is long and arduous.
“It’s always nice to be wanted. I definitely appreciate them wanting me to play for their national team and it would be an honor to do that,” Harrison said. “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.”
A more direct route to international soccer would be with his native England, though the FA have yet to reach out to Harrison.
That fact continues to puzzle New York City FC coach Patrick Vieira, who doubled down on comments from earlier this season that Harrison has the quality to play for the English Under-21 National Team.
“I’m quite surprised he hasn’t received any calls at least for the Under-21 because I think he needs to be looked at,” Vieira said Thursday night.
There’s still time for that to happen for Harrison, who doesn’t turn 21 until Nov. 20.
“I’d love to play for the U-21s, I’d love to represent England, my national team,” Harrison said. “If the interest is not there, further down the line if I’m able to get U.S. citizenship I’m not opposed to that either.”
For now, Harrison is enjoying his time in New York City, learning from legends like countryman Frank Lampard a year ago and current NYCFC stars David Villa and Andrea Pirlo, while also playing under Vieira who “for some reason I get nervous whenever he’s around,” Harrison said.
Its those experiences, and the ample playing time he gets with NYCFC, that more than makes up for any national team snubs.
“Another advantage about being out here is that I’m able to have that playing time that a lot of players my age in Europe are quite frustrated by, they’re not really enjoying their football because they’re not getting game time,” Harrison said.
While MLS fans may dream of Harrison playing alongside Christian Pulisic, Harrison’s concentration is squarely on his time with NYCFC.
“It’s a little bit [disappointing not getting called into the U21s], 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.”