Harrison looks to improve after scoring first goal

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

The wait for Jack Harrison is beginning to pay off for New York City FC.

After a debut that was the silver lining to the Red Bull Wedding fiasco, Harrison marked his first start with a goal in the 56th minute of City’s loss to Real Salt Lake.

“It’s been a great week,” Harrison said. “It was obviously nice to get a first goal. I was a bit lucky with it getting a deflection. I was still happy to just go out there and fortunate enough to get my first start.”

Harrison started at right wing and played 74 minutes. He looked comfortable on the ball throughout the match as well as in creating his goal. Cutting inside, Harrison dribbled passed two defenders towards the edge of the area before his shot deflected off of Justen Glad passed Nick Rimando.

Head coach Patrick Vieira said he wasn’t surprised to see Harrison shine on his first start.

“Jack is a really talented football player and he really understands the game,” Vieira said. “I took him off because he started to get tired, it was his first full game but I am really proud of him tonight.”

Harrison played the wing as part of a new-look NYCFC attack with David Villa in the middle and Steven Mendoza on the opposite side. Harrison admitted the forwards were still developing a chemistry with each other. He said the language barrier meant that he had to use arm gestures with Mendoza but both players stretched the RSL defense with their skill and direct running.

“I am happy for him,” Mendoza said. “He is getting his rhythm and his confidence. The confidence we give as teammates and the technical staff give him is important so he reaches the level he wants. Just as much him as the rest of us, we are happy for him coming back from injury. Thank God, he had the chance to score and the team is happy for him.”

Harrison missed the first 12 games recovering from an injured pelvis. He will use the upcoming lull in City’s schedule to rest and continue to gain match fitness. He has yet to discuss his availability for the Open Cup match against the New York Cosmos June 15.

“It’s tough to rate my development over two, three weeks of practice,” Harrison said. “Like I said before, I’ve got great mentors and great leaders around me. I’m just learning more and more from them every day.”

Though the rookie was pleased to score his first goal, Harrison said he was responsible for allowing RSL’s first goal. He said he was slow to collapse into the team’s defensive shape allowing for the long ball to be played for Yura Movsisyan. Harrison said he looks forward to studying last night’s match and correcting any mistakes.

“I know with my game that I can always do better,” Harrison said. “I’m going to look over with the coaches and see what I can do better. I’m obviously pleased with the performance but there’s a lot to improve on as well.”