MLS works: Former NYCFC player Jack Harrison signs new deal with Leeds

Former NYCFC and current Leeds United player, Jack Harrison
Former NYCFC and current Leeds United player, Jack Harrison / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

New York City FC has had many players that have come and gone.  Some players are forgettable, while others have left as legends.  There are players that have gone on to try their chances in Europe, and then there are some that returned home.  Some players are legends, and some are memorable. 

But then, there is Jack Harrison, the boy wonder from England who soared to new heights during his two years with the club.  Harrison might not have led NYCFC to a MLS Cup, but his time with the Pigeons is treasured.  He was beloved by supporters, and hit the ground running from the moment he played his first game. 

And yes, he was drafted.  NYCFC drafted Harrison back in 2016, and he gave his all for the club.  But Europe came calling, and he departed for Manchester City FC in 2018, where he first went on loan with Middlesbrough Football Club for the second half of the 2017-2018 season.  But then, he was sent to Leeds United FC, on loan, for the next three years.  Finally, before the 2021-2022 season, he signed with Leeds permanently.

As such, he is currently with his fifth season with the club, and has done well.  He has scored 33 goals in all competitions, and has provided 33 assists.  He has played about 197 fixtures with the team, and now, he will play plenty more.

Former NYCFC player signing new contract for Leeds proves MLS works

On Thursday, Leeds United revealed former New York City FC player, Jack Harrison signed a new five-year contract.  The deal will keep him at the club until 2028, and commits his future in Leeds.  Of course, it is unknown whether the new contract has clauses that relate to relegation or other items, but this does shut down any immediate move. 

This is an incredible moment for Harrison, especially since he went the college route.  He only played one season at Wake Forrest University before signing a Generation Adidas contract in order to be drafted.  Still, he played in college, and then Major League Soccer.  Now, he plays in one of the top leagues in Europe, the Premier League, and starts too.  He is a vital player for Leeds, and a true difference maker on the left wing.

Therefore, Harrison is another player that proves MLS works.  He played two seasons with NYCFC, and his development moved quickly.  Hence, it was not surprising he made the jump to Europe when he did. 

Harrison’s journey shows that the road to following one’s dreams does not have to be a traditional one.  The English player went to boarding school in the United States, played a season in college, played in MLS, and then played in the Championship before being promoted to the Premier League.  His story is not common, but it is proof it can be done.

He also started in MLS.  Too often, many throughout the world, and even within the US and Canada, will say the league is a retirement league or a joke.  But that is changing.  More young players are signing with clubs, and using the league as a stepping stone for Europe, or even some are using the league to become mainstay stars. 

Harrison’s start in MLS with NYCFC proves a player can make a stop, or in his case, start his professional career, in the league, and eventually make it to a league like the Premier League. He shows the possibility, and can even inspire others to take a similar route. 

The growth of the teams in the league each year, including NYCFC, allows for the ideal development of young talent.  Not only are the players getting better, but the coaches too.  Better coaching leads to better players, and when players are properly developed, then can go to England like Harrison did. 

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So, Harrison’s start with New York City FC illuminates that younger players can start in or make the move to MLS, and find success later on in the top leagues of Europe.