Vieira: Harrison is still far from his best

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

BRONX – Jack Harrison is a rookie by definition only.

The winger continued his revelatory run of form with a goal and assist to carry New York City FC to their first Derby win and first place in the East. On his and the franchise’s best day, head coach Patrick Vieira believes the best is yet to come.

“I’m really pleased, he’s been playing well but he’s been out four-five months with injury,” Vieira said. “We know in football that you need another three or four months to get to your best. I’m really pleased with the way he’s played but I’m most happy with his commitment and hard work in training.”

Vieira said surrounding Harrison with David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo has allowed him to express himself. Lampard and Harrison rehabbed together during the early part of the season with Lampard becoming a mentor for his countryman. Lampard found Harrison in the buildup to NYCFC’s second goal and believes the rookie will stay grounded despite the praise.

“He’s given us an edge on that right wing,” Lampard said. “He’s a huge part of the last few performances and he’s got a great future because he’s so young. He’s got a good head on him so he’ll go a long way.”

Harrison has two goals and two assists in his first five professional appearances. Sunday’s match was the first the 19-year-old completed, though he’s started the last four matches. With a busy week ahead, Harrison is likely to see his minutes regulated by Vieira. Villa said Harrison’s emergence has been a godsend for NYCFC.

“Jack is very good news for NYCFC, not only for now but for history,” Villa said. “He’s a very good guy, young guy. He’s going to have a very good career because he’s a quality player but he is smart…In one month, he got it. All that Patrick wants from him, he got it and this is very difficult in soccer.”

Villa said Harrison paid his dues recovering for four months to a pelvis injury. Harrison had to endure the conclusion of last month’s 7–0 defeat in which he was the silver lining. Now the golden boy, Harrison said he’s going to stay humble through the praise.

“Obviously the guys have been great making me comfortable despite my injury,” Harrison said. “That’s been a massive help as well. It’s just how I play. The same thing happened in college and I feel like I just have to express myself and be comfortable on the ball.”