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Jack Harrison is the key to NYCFC making a playoff run

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For the first two seasons of New York City FC’s existence, it was much of the same for the club when they’d move up the pitch.

The players in the attacking third would target forward David Villa, who would then do his best -- and often times succeed -- to make the most of the situation and find the back of the net.

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Villa’s brilliance since he came to MLS in 2015 should not and has not gone unnoticed as he’s accumulated 60 league goals in an almost three-year span. However, there’s a reason why NYCFC fell short of the postseason in 2015 and was hammered in last season’s playoff appearance against Toronto FC.

The club was simply too reliant on their star Spanish striker.

Now, it’s conceivable that that previous statement might be a bit too harsh considering the fact that the man is a former World Cup winner and has proven at the age of 35 that he is at the very least one of the top five players in MLS.

That doesn’t change the fact though that to succeed in this league -- and most leagues worldwide -- there can’t be one player carrying a team to glory.

That’s where Jack Harrison comes in.

The second-year Englishman is coming into his own as one of MLS’ most promising young talents, and his numbers back that up.

The former Manchester United academy product has reached 10 goals this season, after having tallied four a season ago, while also logging the second-most minutes on NYCFC -- which shows manager Patrick Vieira’s confidence in the winger.

Meanwhile, six of Harrison’s 10 finishes in 2017 have proven to be game-winning goals, which is the most on his team. That includes Wednesday night’s blast against the Montreal Impact, which kept the Boys in Blue in the running for a first-round bye in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Harrison can be pointed to for many reasons, including his goalscoring ability, but it’s the mobility and creative brilliance he exhibits that has made those around MLS wonder how long the 20-year-old will actually stick around in the United States.

As long as he does though, NYCFC needs him crucially, especially come playoff time. Last season, it became painfully clear that the club lacked another dangerous attacking threat outside of Villa, and with Harrison boasting more experience now he is the one that should help carry the load.