In his one year at the University of Akron, Jonathan Lewis registered a 3.7 GPA with a focus on Actuarial Science, a discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to insurance risks.
“I’m good with numbers,” he said.
The New York City FC sophomore winger is now absorbed with numbers in a different context – minutes played in Major League Soccer.
Lewis came off the bench for a season-high 23 minutes against the Montreal Impact on Wednesday night and struck a thunderous header past Evan Bush for the concluding goal in City’s 3-0 win.
With the acquisitions of forwards Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Jesus Medina and Jo Inge Berget prior to the season, former coach Patrick Vieira elected to hold Lewis out of the initial 13 matches. Lewis has now appeared in six consecutive contests including all four games managed by his new mentor, Domènec Torrent.
“Of course it’s now that I have a little more confidence from the manager,” Lewis said after scoring his first goal of the season. “He’s putting me out there so I just have to keep working hard and just keeping trying to play as well as I can when I come in.”
In 2017, NYCFC traded up in the MLS SuperDraft to secure Lewis by sending $250,000 in Targeted Allocation Money to the Chicago Fire in exchange for the No. 3 overall selection.
“I think they like me,” Lewis said on draft day after receiving a strong indication of New York City’s intent on the eve of the draft.
“Patrick told me, ‘We’ll see you soon.”
Lewis had been named the Most Valuable Player at the MLS Combine preceding the draft but he also had a relationship with Vieira.
“He knows my uncle so we know him as a family friend,” Lewis said. “It’s funny he came to America and now I’m going to play for him.”
However, the 21-year old Lewis never received consistent opportunities under Vieira. In 2017, the Florida native appeared in 11 matches, scoring two goals with an assist. This year Lewis totaled 28 minutes in 15 matches before Torrent’s arrival.
“I think I’m more comfortable under him (Torrent) because I’m playing a little bit more,” Lewis said. “I think me and Patrick had a good relationship it was just unlucky I didn’t get my shot to keep going under Patrick. Both coaches I feel pretty comfortable with I’m just getting more of a chance under one.”
Under Torrent, Lewis has managed the game-winning assist in the Hudson River Derby and his confident finish against the Impact.
“I’m very happy with him – very, very happy,” Torrent said. “He’s a fighter. He has a lot of intensity on every single ball.”
Torrent gave Lewis a two-minute cameo in a home win against Toronto FC followed by 15 minutes at Chicago, 14 versus the Red Bulls before an impactful performance on Wednesday. Torrent indicated that Lewis will remain a reserve at least in the short term.
“I prefer right now, step by step because he’s a young player,” Torrent said. “You know he is a fast player but when the opponent defends deep he has more issues.”
“I wouldn’t say I’ve figured it out because if I figured it out I’d play for Barcelona,” Lewis said. “I’m learning and processing new information – just learning from the other teammates seeing what they do and seeing what I can bring different.”
Lewis says he also gets tutored when watching the World Cup.
“I like (Kylian) Mbappé,” Lewis said of the 19-year old who has helped lead France to the World Cup Final. “He’s been someone I’ve been looking up to a lot now. I like Raheem Sterling as well.”
Although Sterling and England were eliminated by Croatia in the World Cup. Lewis said he picked Croatia to defeat England.
“The worst thing is, I’m half English and I don’t like England,” said Lewis who suggested that France is an easy pick to win Sunday’s final.
In the meantime, New York City prepare for a Saturday match at Yankee Stadium where City are unbeaten in 10 this season (9-0-1). The opponent is Columbus Crew SC and Lewis will be hunting for more time.
“The most important thing for a coach is when a player gets 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes he’s focused. Right now Jonathan is focusing every single second,” Torrent said. “I’m very happy for the team and for him.”