COLUMBUS, Ohio – With three of their biggest names out of the lineup, New York City FC made a statement in Columbus Saturday night, clawing back to beat Crew SC in their own stadium.
No one spoke louder than Jack Harrison.
Without star striker David Villa, who stayed at the team hotel with an illness, left back Ronald Matarrita out with an ankle injury and Andrea Pirlo left on the substitute's bench, it was the young winger who stepped up, scoring twice in the 3-2 win and impressing his coach with what Patrick Vieira called a “fantastic game.”
“When you come to a place like (this) and play the way that we played, you need players to be at their best,” Vieira said. “When you look at Jack, he was fantastic – not just because of the goals he scored, but the way he worked for the team.”
Harrison dinked a perfect chip past Zack Steffen for the game’s opening goal in the 8th minute, and added a second after he beat a defender to a loose ball in the Columbus box for the game-winner in the 76th minute. It was his first multi-goal game of his burgeoning professional career.
But after the match, he took little credit for his work, lauding a pass from Maxi Moralez for his opener and “great team pressure” for creating his second.
“For me, it’s more about the team performance,” he said. “I got two goals tonight, but I couldn’t have done it without the teammates around me. I think we played very well as a team, and that paid off for us tonight.”
Facing a tough road opponent without Villa, the team’s captain and main scoring threat, Harrison admitted he felt “obligated to do a little bit more,” but knew he had to stay under control in an important moment.
“I think it’s also important not to do too much,” he said. “I think tonight we showed that by working as a team we can be more effective that way. That’s key for us, going forward.”
That maturity isn’t lost on his coach.
“Jack grew up as a player,” Vieira said. “He’s getting better every day, every week because of the way he’s training and how he’s conducting himself in training.”