NEW YORK — Candidates to replace Jack Harrison on the wing for New York City FC are plentiful, but questions about who will replenish his production from a season ago remain unanswered through half of the teams’ pre-season matches.
NYCFC will conclude a stretch of three games in six days with a Tuesday visit to Division 2 Mexican side Atlético de San Luis following two contests on back-to-back days against Los Angeles FC and the L.A. Galaxy.
“We’re not looking to bring in any wingers,” head coach Patrick Vieira said after a 1-1 draw with LAFC. “We have enough quality players to fill Jack’s position.”
Harrison, who recently transferred to sister club Manchester City and is now on loan at Middlesbrough, was among MLS’ leaders in 2017 with six game-winning tallies. He concluded with 10 goals and six assists.
Vieira will choose from a group that includes newcomers Jesús Medina, Ismael Tajouri and Jo Inge Berget, plus returning players Rodney Wallace, Jonathan Lewis and Tommy McNamara.
“We have different types of players who can play that position,” said Vieira. “It’s still too early.”
There are expectations 20-year old Medina, signed as a young designated player, will be a central figure in the attack once he finds a comfort level in Vieira’s system.
“He’s a really interesting player,” Vieira said. “But he will need time to get used to playing the way we play and time to adapt to the league.”
Medina made his professional debut at 15 years old with Club Libertad of the Paraguayan Primera División. Over five seasons he appeared in 74 matches and scored 17 goals, helping Libertad to five league titles. Medina earned his first cap with Paraguay’s national team last summer in a friendly against Mexico, and he had offers from Italy and Denmark before choosing a transfer to NYCFC.
“I decided with my agent to come to MLS because I am still young,” Medina said through a translator following the 3-0 loss to the Galaxy. “I can grow on the field and as a person before the big jump. Patrick and David [Villa] will be a great influence on my growth.”
Medina started the Galaxy match on the left wing in a 4-3-3 shape. After the interval, he moved to the right flank, which provides more options with his lethal left leg.
“I like to go diagonally into the middle to face the goal and either shoot or look for service,” said Medina, who signed a four-year pact with NYCFC. “And I love to play freely in spaces as an attacking midfielder. I just want to score and assist as much as I can.”
That mirrors the desire of his new club, which yearns for Medina to mimic the debut season of his compatriot Miguel Almirón – the 2017 MLS Newcomer of the Year after a spectacular debut season with Atlanta United.
In the meantime, the erstwhile Harrison will have to wait at least another week to make his debut with the Boro. He was an unused substitute on Saturday in the club’s 2-1 triumph versus fellow Championship side Reading FC.