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Report: Everton, Leicester City, Brighton interested in NYCFC’s Harrison

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Jack Harrison’s MLS season came to an end last Sunday but he could be back on the field in a couple of months.

The Daily Mail reports that Everton, Leicester City and Brighton and Hove Albion all have the New York City FC winger on their radars, joining the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City in watching the 20-year-old. Harrison is currently in England training with the England U-21s ahead of a qualifying match at Ukraine.

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The trio could spring for him in the January transfer window, though it would take a big transfer fee to pry him away from NYCFC and City Football Group. Per the Journal of Sports Administration and Supervision, Harrison’s Generation Adidas contract is a three-year guaranteed deal with two player option years following, meaning still under contract to MLS but is heading into the last year of the guaranteed portion of his deal.

Harrison is coming off his first full season in MLS, starting in 35 of 36 games, finishing with 10 goals and six assists as well as cementing himself as one of the league’s most exciting prospects. Harrison’s form even earned him a call-up to England’s Under-21s, where he featured twice, starting once for the Three Lions in Euro U-21 Championship qualifiers.

Should Harrison join a Premier League club and earn a place in the starting lineup, it would be the latest step in an incredible journey that saw him moved to upstate New York by his mother to ensure he had an education as well as proof that MLS can develop young players for the Premier League again.

Andrea Pirlo confirms retirement from NYCFC, playing career

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No party: Andrea Pirlo is calling it a day at New York City FC.

We’ve known this for a while, but Pirlo officially called time on MLS tenure on Monday.

[ MORE: Houston knocks Portland out ]

NYCFC’s comeback attempt fell just short on Sunday when it failed to convert a third goal in a 2-0 second leg win over Columbus (The Crew won the first leg 4-1).

Pirlo issued this statement early Monday, confirming that his retirement from MLS is also his retirement from the playing field.

He’ll go down as a man capable of playing as beautiful a ball as any in soccer history.

MLS Cup Playoffs: Weekend Preview

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The Seattle Sounders booked their place in the MLS Cup Conference Finals, but there’s three places up for grabs that will be decided this Sunday.

Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew take advantages into their second-leg bouts with the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC, respectively, while the Portland Timbers head back home to host the Houston Dynamo coming off a scoreless draw.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

TFC is edging closer to a second-consecutive appearance in the Eastern Conference final after their 2-1 win at the Red Bulls while the Crew ran riot past NYCFC at home, leaving Patrick Vieira’s season on the brink.

Here’s a look at what we can expect to see in the final three second-leg matchups of the conference semifinals.

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Columbus 4-1 NYCFC: Crew takes commanding lead at Mapfre

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The Columbus Crew couldn’t have asked for a better start to their two-legged meeting with 2-seed NYCFC in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Until the moment it went sour. Until the moment it was set straight.

Ola Kamara opened the scoring in the 6th minute, and then a 52nd-minute red card to Alexander Callens saw the home side take a commanding 3-0 lead behind goals from Artur and Justin Meram.

With Columbus close to bringing that near-perfect result with them on the road to Yankee Stadium, David Villa capitalized on a mistake from Jonathan Mensah to grab a vital 78th minute NYCFC away goal. But a stunning stoppage-time strike by Harrison Afful restored the three-goal lead and gave the Crew a fine feeling heading into the second leg.

Just six minutes into the match, Sean Johnson acrobatically saved a low shot by Federico Higuain, but the rebound fell right to Kamara at the doorstep who slid to meet the ball and open the scoring. It was a dream start for the Crew, who played in front of a surprisingly thin Mapfre stadium.

David Villa had a chance to level things up for the visitors, but his 2-on-1 effort past the half-hour mark struck the right post

The Crew held a slim halftime lead, but the game would change after the break. In the 47th minute, NYCFC hoped to attack with a corner up front. Defender Alex Callens came up for the scrum, and looking to make space, he lifted an elbow to the face of Justin Meram, which was caught on VAR and a red card was produced.

The sending off completely altered the dynamic of the match. The Crew picked up two more strikes, as 21-year-old Brazilian Artur wrong-footed NYCFC defender Frederic Brilliant for the second after breaking 4-on-2, followed by Meram who put one past goalkeeper Johnson, who will be disappointed not to save the ball shot straight at him.

With the Crew cruising, a big mistake cost them. NYCFC looked to bypass the midfield and pump long balls forward, and it worked. With 12 minutes to go, Jonathan Mensah slipped trying to clear, and Villa was there to turn and fire a critical away goal.

The game exploded open after the Villa goal, with both teams wasting big chances in the final 10 minutes, but the Crew re-solidified its position with the clock winding down. Halfway through four minutes of stoppage time, a weaving Harrison Afful sent no fewer than four defenders flopping to the ground before finishing calmly to put the Crew 4-1 up and restore the significant advantage.

A goal fitting to win a two-legged tie, but knowing what kind of offense awaits us at Yankee Stadium, the matchup is far from over no matter the midway advantage.

FOLLOW LIVE – Columbus, NYCFC meet in MLS Playoff leg 1

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“When you play well and you take your chances you always have more chances to win games than the opposition team.”

Patrick Viera is sticking to the simple and obvious as NYCFC gets set to defend its 2-seed in the East against 5-seeded Columbus in the first round of the MLS playoffs with an 8:00 pm E.T. kick.

[ FOLLOW: MLS first round scores, play-by-play ]

NYCFC has been led by David Villa, who finished second in the Golden Boot standings, but Viera has been impressed not by one Crew member, but all of them. “What I love about Columbus is the collective game,” Vieira said. “When the collective is good that allows the individual to show how good they are.

With the game set to take place at Mapfre Stadium, the crowd should be fired up by the recent rumors of Columbus relocation. The atmosphere is expected to be incredibly hostile to the opposition, and supportive of its hometown team. Recent rumblings have energized the Columbus fanbase, and that should keep the place bumping all night.

New York’s collective is pretty strong too. With Villa the star, players like Yangel Herrera and Rodney Wallace are just as important to the unit. Herrera especially is the anchor of a midfield that often decides NYCFC’s fate in matches.

Who will get the advantage in the first leg? Follow along with the link above.