It’s fair to say that it’s been a busy few days in NYCFC World.
With news that Jack Harrison is embarking on a new chapter back in his homeland and with preseason in full swing, there’s been plenty of headlines swirling around the Boys in Blue all over the globe.
We begin with one that you might have missed on this side of the pond from The Washington Post, concerning U-19 Head Coach Matt Pilkington.
Before arriving at NYCFC, Pilkington coached at Olney Rangers, a youth soccer team from Washington’s Maryland suburbs.
Applying an approach to development and a coaching methodology not a million miles away from Pilkington’s work with NYCFC now, the focus was on development rather than winning games and it was an approach that saw big results for the players in his charge.
Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem is the most famous graduate from Olney in the last decade, but three more players from the team turned professional in this month’s SuperDraft, taking the number of pros from Rangers up to an impressive seven in recent years.
“If you’re a club coach, one player becoming a professional is great,” Pilkington said. “But to have five or six, it’s the biggest reward. It’s not about the trophies; it’s about getting them to the next level.
“We never won at first, but we tried to do the right things. It was always about developing. We had good kids and good parents. As they got older, we gradually got better. We picked up a few skillful and creative players who were able to do special things.
“We played with fluidity. The energy was collective, and to have top, top talent that wanted to stay together made it easy for me.”
Elsewhere, Harrison’s transfer to Man City, and subsequent loan to Middlesbrough, dominates the headlines, with ESPN FC’s Mark Ogden writing a column on the subject today.
Ogden believes that Harrison’s spell at the Riverside Stadium could lay the groundwork for a future in the English top flight.
“Harrison, who can also play as a forward, scored 14 goals in 59 appearances during two seasons in the MLS, and his progress under Patrick Vieira at New York earned him an England U21 call-up earlier this season,” the article reads.
“Senior figures at City have made it clear that Harrison, who spent time at neighbors Manchester United as a schoolboy, is not yet ready for the first-team squad.
“But Guardiola and Vieira believe he can develop into a player capable of competing for a first-team place and the risk of allowing him to leave the City Football Group to sign for Stoke was not worth taking.
“City arranged Harrison's loan to Middlesbrough in order to expose him to a more competitive and demanding environment in the hope he will develop further.”
We’ll certainly be following his progress in England with interest here in New York – good luck, Jack!
Finally, what could be more NYC than a pair of stand-up comedians, Tommy McNamara and slices of pizza? Nothing, that’s what.
The Cooligans took T-Mac on an offseason (!) tour of the Big Apple’s best slice joints and filmed it all for your viewing pleasure.
Well worth 18 minutes of your time…