CLUB: New York City FC
YEARS PRO: 1
Major League Soccer owes a debt of gratitude to Jack Harrison's mother. It was she who decided that her son should leave England and come to the United States. Debbie Harrison thought it best for her only son to have an education to fall back on in case his professional soccer dream didn't pan out, so she sent him to the Berkshire School in Massachusetts at the age of 14 to attend school and play soccer. Five years later, Harrison, the No. 2 player in this year's MLS 24 Under 24, is a key component of New York City FC's rise to the Eastern Conference elite, making an immediate impact for the club as soon as he stepped into the lineup.
Harrison was an All-American as a freshman at Wake Forest, then was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by the Chicago Fire, who then traded his rights to NYCFC. After some injury trouble, he made his MLS debut as a sub in NYCFC's 7-0 loss to the rival New York Red Bulls and got his first start two games later. He scored a goal in that game and never looked back. He had three goals and two assists in his first seven starts, and that fast start had NYCFC fans talking about a possible England youth national team call-up, or perhaps even applying for US citizenship and playing for the USMNT.
What the technical staffers say:
"He's a dynamic player, a creative player that can beat you 1-v-1 – but also on the pass. He's got that vision to break you on the final pass. We saw that in the Combine and to see him doing it now at the pro level is interesting. … As a young player, he plays like he's fearless. So sometimes it's just recognizing the moment of when to play simple and when to try to express yourself offensively. That's an area [to work on], the decision-making in certain areas of the pitch."
"His acceleration with the ball is impressive. He's aggressive, he's got a really good mindset. The left foot is very good, and as we saw off the set piece against Red Bulls, he's able to score with his right foot as well. I think he's proven to be pretty effective. Now it helps when you're playing with David Villa, Frank Lampard and those guys, because he's not asked to do anything other than to fit into a pretty dynamic attacking system. He's also hit a little bit of a rookie wall that happens with guys, so it'll be interesting to see how he emerges from this and grows out of this first year. But I've been really impressed with him – to actually be a starter in that group is good."
"Ceiling? I think it is really high, because both his feet are good, because of the acceleration, because learning the movement off the ball that he's going to get will be key for his continued development. If he wants to [go], I'd be surprised if in three or four years he's not gone back to Europe with the European passport."