NYCFC: Will Jonathan Lewis be Jack Harrison’s starting XI replacement?

13 January 2017: Jonathan Lewis (Akron) (Generation Adidas) was taken with the
13 January 2017: Jonathan Lewis (Akron) (Generation Adidas) was taken with the /

With winger Jack Harrison taking his talents to England, we look Jonathan Lewis’ case for a starting spot in the 2018 season for NYCFC.

The departed Jack Harrison shined in his second MLS season, holding down a starting role for one of the leagues best teams, New York City FC. The Englishman played every game for the Eastern Conference side, starting all but one. His shoes will be hard to fill as the 21-year-old contributed ten goals and six assists for NYCFC.

Why he should

In his short number of appearances last season, Jonathan Lewis showed several glimpses of quality in the NYCFC side. Similarly to now Sporting KC winger Khiry Shelton’s first season, Lewis displayed both his pace and technical ability while taking on defenders.

August 12th saw one of NYCFC’s standout goals of the season, scored by none other than Jonathan Lewis. In his first professional goal, the 2017 draftee showed off his outstanding footwork to create space followed by a jaw-dropping finish over keeper Brian Rowe. If Lewis is able to replicate that ability for the upcoming campaign, there would be no argument against him.

The former Akron man also showed his ability to create with his teammates in his first ever start. Along the baseline, Lewis cut back, sending the defender to the ground and finding David Villa who volleyed the wonderfully placed pass in the back of the net.

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Why he shouldn’t

His first season in Major League Soccer lacked sufficient playing time to judge his ability to perform across an entire season. Lewis made just eleven appearances for the pigeons, being part of the starting lineup only four times.

Out of those four starts, the US U-20 international has yet to play a full 90 minutes. His record so far is 72 minutes when the Chicago Fire came to New York in July. It’s unknown if Lewis is capable of providing quality from kick-off to the final whistle, but with a second pre-season under his belt, the sophomore may be capable of much more.

His competition

Although one of the people that stood in Lewis’ way of playing time, Khiry Shelton, has left the club, another has joined. Austrian winger, Ismael Tajouri, joined the Eastern Conference side on January 12th from Austria Vienna, where he scored eight goals in 49 games. It’s unlikely the 23-year-old gets the start on opening day, however after he gets some game time under his belt he will surely challenge to be apart of the starting eleven.

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Additionally, winger Rodney Wallace will fight to keep his spot in City’s lineup. The Costa Rican international started 23 games for New York in his first season for the club, which he began contributing right away. What is in Lewis’ favor is that Wallace’s form dropped greatly as the season went on, leading Patrick Vieira to question his role.