One More Derby, Then Rest for Harrison

Matt Kremkau

NYCFC logoPURCHASE, N.Y. — Jack Harrison was substituted last weekend and watched two other wingers drive New York City FC to a come-from-behind victory. Judging from training this week, Harrison may be watching much of Friday night’s game at the New York Red Bulls as well.

Harrison got an assist in NYCFC’s 2-2 draw against Toronto FC on July 19, but is goalless in the last seven games. He’s been substituted in each of the past two games after starting and finishing the previous nine, the longest stretch in his career. Although Coach Patrick Vieira said that Harrison is playing well at the moment, he concedes that Harrison’s minutes will have to be managed in the coming weeks.

“We have to take care of Jack because he’s been playing a lot of games since the beginning of the season,” Vieira said. “I will have to manage his games for the next few games. It’s good that the international week is coming soon as well so we will see with the game on Friday but it’s not sure he will be involved from the beginning.”

Already Harrison, 20, has played more than 2,000 minutes, second-most on the team behind Alex Callens. The minutes, along with his eight goals and six assists, are all improvements from a rookie season that was hampered by a pelvis issue. Harrison said that he’s feeling fine physically, but conceded that he’s looking forward to a period of rest as well.

“The pelvis is fine but I felt a little bit tired during the last game,” Harrison said. “If we can push through this one, we get a break and we can rejuvenate then.”

Vieira can afford to lessen the load on Harrison having seen Jonathan Lewis find his form, and Khiry Shelton and Rodney Wallace return from injuries. Vieira has been happy with Shelton’s contributions off the bench and said he wanted to see Shelton play a full 90 minutes to better gauge where he is compared with the other wing options. He added that if and when Shelton and Wallace find full fitness, it will not only help him manage Harrison’s playing time but help support David Villa in the attack.

Still, Harrison has put in good performances against the Red Bulls including a goal in their 2-0 win June 24 and a goal and assist in last season’s victory. He said he’s been able to figure out how to find spaces behind the Red Bulls’ press and adapt to the moments when they converge on him with two defenders. Vieira said Harrison’s past success against the Red Bulls isn’t being considered.

“The past is the past, we’re always looking ahead,” Vieira said. “I have players around who’ve been doing really well. It’s a decision that I will make tomorrow but Jack is in a really good place. I just have the feeling that he’s been playing a lot of football. It doesn’t mean that he’s not going to start on Friday but I have other options with the other players who can play.”

NOTES

NYCFC has a center back on trial for about the next 10 days, Vieira confirmed. Although Vieira did not provide the name of the player, WFAN’s Glenn Crooks tweeted Thursday morning that it was Tom Thorpe, a former England U21 who played with Bolton Wanderers in League 1 last season. Thorpe is a free agent after the expiration of his contract with Rotherham United. … Yangel Herrera is suspended for Friday’s game because of yellow card accumulation, which likely means a second consecutive start for Mikey Lopez at defensive midfield. …  Alex Ring will join the Finnish national team for the coming World Cup qualifiers on Sept. 2 and 5, likely ruling him out for City’s game against Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 6. Wallace (Costa Rica) and Herrera (Venezuela) are also likely to be called in by their national teams leaving their status for that game in doubt.