The former Manchester United trainee made his first appearance for the club as a second-half substitute in last weekend's 7-0 home defeat to the New York Red Bulls.
While New York City FC’s highly-rated rookie Jack Harrison finally earned some playing time last weekend, head coach Patrick Vieira has told MLSSoccer.com that it could be some time before we see him in the starting line-up.
Harrison, who played one year at Wake Forest University, was initially selected by the Chicago Fire with the first overall pick of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, but no sooner was the move announced than he was traded to NYCFC for the fourth pick and general allocation money.
However, the 19-year-old English attacker subsequently missed the entire preseason with a pelvic injury and was later put on the club’s disabled list on 11 March after failing to recover in time for the start of the campaign.
He has steadily worked his way back to fitness over the past two months, though, and finally made his long-awaited MLS debut last weekend when he came on for the final 33 minutes of the team’s embarrassing 7-0 defeat at home to crosstown rivals the New York Red Bulls.
The Bolton native, who was on the books of Manchester United before moving to the USA at the age of 14 to attend prestigious Berkshire School in Massachusetts, was labelled NYCFC’s lone bright spot from the thumping and fans are now desperate to see more of him moving forward.
However, while Vieira is certainly excited about Harrison’s clear potential, he remains wary about rushing the promising teenager into a starting role too soon.
“He’s a good player,” Vieira told MLSSoccer.com. “Technically he’s really good, he understands the game, he can come and link with our No. 9, he can run behind their back four, his football brain is fantastic.
“He’s a really young talented player. We just have to build him up. We don’t want to put him in a difficult situation. It will take time for him to get back to his best.”
Despite the loss to the Red Bulls, NYCFC still sit fourth in the Eastern Conference after 13 games, having recorded four wins, five draws and suffered four defeats to leave them with 17 points – three behind conference leaders the Philadelphia Union.
After missing the playoffs by 12 points in their inaugural season, the club have certainly made some positive steps forward since Vieira replaced Jason Kreis as head coach last November, but last weekend’s humiliating defeat took much of the shine off their solid start to the 2016 campaign.
They will have a chance to bounce back at home to Orlando City SC on Sunday night, though, when we could see Harrison make a second cameo appearance at Yankee Stadium.