New York City FC supporters have the distinction of being the first fans to ever see the footballing prodigy that is Jack Harrison. At just 19 years old, the English-born forward was selected with #1 overall pick by the Chicago Fire in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft before being traded to NYCFC for the fourth overall pick and allocation money. Sure enough, City’s investment paid off.
Over the course of two seasons with NYCFC, Harrison made 56 appearances and scored 14 goals, becoming one of MLS’s top young prospects in the process. Renowned for his stellar dribbling ability, neat first touch, and his ability to cut in from the right flank onto his dominant left foot, Jackie Boy always seemed destined for something greater than what the American top flight had to offer.
Eventually, the rest of the footballing world took notice and in January of this year, amidst tons of rumors, Harrison was sold to sister club Manchester City for an alleged $6 million — in addition to a sizable sell-on clause — and was immediately loaned out to Championship side Middlesbrough, where he would make 4 total appearances until the end of the 2017-18 season.
Fast forward to the summer, and Jack is finally training with the first team at Man City. And last night, he made his first ever appearance with the club — a friendly against German club Borrussia Dortmund.
.@Mahrez22 starts his first game for #mancity! pic.twitter.com/yeKepe1rOC— Manchester City (@ManCity) July 21, 2018
Though our big sister would lose the match 1-0 to Dortmund, Jack Harrison, who played up until the 72nd minute, was given high praise by Cityzens manager — and former mentor to current NYCFC boss Domé Torrent — Pep Guardiola:
#PEP: @Harrison_Jack11 was so quick and he did his job really, really well. He did many many good things and did an amazing job. #mancity— Manchester City (@ManCity) July 21, 2018
Yup. That’s Pep Guardiola, possibly the best tactical manager in the world, admiring Jack Harrison’s ability. If that isn’t a sign that this kid’s going places, I don’t know what is.
Also — and this is just me being way too observant — I also find it ironic that not only was this game played in Chicago (you know, the fools who thought it best to trade Harrison to NYCFC in the first place) and with Manchester City, the fierce rival of Manchester United with whom Harrison played with at the U-14 level before coming to the States at the insistence of his mother.
Crazy coincidences notwithstanding, it’s exciting to see one of our guys start paving his way in the best football league in the world and prove to young players around the world that MLS can serve as a stepping stone for budding young stars who wish to not get lost in the scramble of the crazy, bloated youth systems in Europe. Harrison is not only an ambassador of New York City, but also of the MLS at large.
Good luck, Jack! We know you’ve got what it takes to be among the elite.