The pundits have spoken, and it appears that Major League Soccer does indeed know Jack.
MLSSoccer.com dropped the top five of their annual honor roll for the league’s best young players today, and New York City FC will feel as if justice has very much been served: Jack Harrison, a.k.a. the Bolton Brawler, a.k.a. A$AP Jackie, a.k.a. the Prince That Was Promised, is rocking the #2 spot.
Orlando City center forward Cyle Larin, already an established Canada international, was the only player to beat out our boy. And that's nothing to complain about.
Born in Bolton and raised near Stoke, the former Manchester United academy kid made the bold choice to bolt across the pond and enroll at the elite Berkshire School in Massachusetts, which led to an acclaimed freshman campaign at Wake Forest University, where he claimed the Gatorade National Player of the Year prize. Thanks to a summertime stint with Manhattan Soccer Club, the aggressive, sure-footed, playmaking Harrison was already on the NYCFC radar.
And when January’s MLS SuperDraft came along, Claudio Reyna & Co. did what they needed to do to get their man.
It’s a bit of a surprise to see Harrison clocking in ahead of Seattle Sounders and USMNT scion Jordan Morris, considering that MLSSoccer.com is, appopriately, a bastion for rah-rah support of the national teams from the U.S. and Canada. Morris’s 10 league goals lead the Sounders, and his 2318 MLS minutes trail only the indomitable Osvaldo Alonso among outfield players in the Emerald City.
But forget all that. Today is all about our boy, who boasts 3 goals and 5 assists on the year, including a pair of dimes in last weekend’s 2-2 thriller against league leaders FC Dallas.
Perhaps the best part of today’s news? The fact that Harrison, at age 19, is only just getting started. In fact, the rookie phenom is one of just two teenagers on the annual ranking, alongside Real Salt Lake defender Justen Glad (#15).
With Frank Lampard’s calf injury looming low over the proceedings for the rest of NYCFC’s regular season, we may get the chance to see a different side of Battlin’ Jack’s game— he’s appeared exclusively as a right winger in 17 appearances for Patrick Vieira this year, but figures to be a top choice, along with Tommy McNamara, to slide into Lampard’s attacking role coming up the middle.
Be. Still. My. Heart.
In the meantime, let’s hear a round of sound for NYCFC’s British Bulldog.