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Jack Harrison feels “no regrets” about career path with NYCFC

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There was a time when Jack Harrison was with Manchester United, albeit at the age of 14, but what if he had never left the Premier League giants?

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Perhaps the young attacker would be playing at Old Trafford alongside youngsters like Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw.

That’s not the case though — at least not right now — and that doesn’t seem to bother the New York City FC winger, who is thriving at New York City FC and making a name for himself as one of Major League Soccer’s most dynamic young talents.

“I definitely have no regrets, especially now,” Harrison told Press Association Sport. “A couple of years ago, I would always think about what would have happened if I had stayed at United, but now I have no regrets, I am happy to be here in the situation I am, playing with the players I am.

“I am learning so much and it can only get better, really.”

Harrison spent seven seasons in the Man United academy, before arriving in the United States in 2010. He eventually attended Wake Forest, where he was voted the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2015 — his only season playing for the Demon Deacons.

Now, in just his second season in MLS, Harrison has doubled his goal total from four in 2016 to eight this campaign, while his six assists is tied for third on NYCFC.

The 20-year-old has been the biggest standout from the 2016 MLS SuperDraft class, which also boasted young talents like Brandon Vincent and Andrew Tarbell, but Harrison still hasn’t let any of that get to his head.

The young player’s focus has remained on staying fit and playing matches on a consistent basis, which is something that he wasn’t sure he would have been provided in England.

“It can be tough sometimes for someone my age in England or anywhere in Europe to get the playing time that they want, and to be playing as much as I am, [I am] just really grateful,” Harrison said.

Watch: NYCFC’s Alex Ring scores golazo in Finland win

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Finland hadn’t won a competitive match in two years. So it figures that it took a world class goal to make it happen.

Finland defeated Iceland, 1-0 in Tampere, Finland on the back of a brilliant free kick goal from New York City FC midfielder Alexander Ring. Ring’s free kick bent over and around the wall and off the crossbar for a goal in the eighth minute, and it was all Finland needed for a big World Cup qualifying victory.

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Here’s the goal from the broadcast view.

Morata gives Spain’s No. 7 shirt back to David Villa

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When a country’s leading scorer returns to the national team fold, that star is going to get a lot of respect.

When that player is the all-time leading scorer for Spain, and won a EURO and a World Cup with the side, well, even more so.

[ REPORT: Chelsea in for Rafinha ]

David Villa is back in Spain camp this week ahead of a massive 2018 World Cup qualifier against Italy, his first time with La Furia Roja since the 2014 World Cup.

Villa has 59 goals in his Spanish career, 15 more than second-place Raul. So when Julen Lopetegui name Villa to the squad, Chelsea and Spain striker Alvaro Morata knew what he had to do with his current squad number.

The No. 7 belongs to Villa,” Morata is reported to have said.

It’s no small gesture. The No. 7 shirt in Spain is a big deal, and Morata is one of the most important players in the side. It’s a class move from Morata, who is far more critical to Spain’s 2018 World Cup hopes.

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 1-1 NYCFC

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The match in 100 words (or less): As usual between these two teams, the game was wide open from the get-go. Both teams ripped shots in the opening 20 minutes, with plenty of scrambles in both boxes, but the finishing was less than stellar. The Red Bulls in particular spurned some good chances over the opening 45 minutes. In the second half, NYCFC scored against the run of play but conceded a clunky penalty shortly after. Sascha Kljestan was a positive presence in the midfield and Maxi Murillo proved creative.

Three moments that mattered:

 45+3′ – Arguably the best chance of the first half fell right before the halftime whistle as Bradley Wright-Phillips – who had a few chances of his own over the first 45 – fed through right-back Michael Murillo on the right edge of the six-yard box, but Sean Johnson came out to cut off the angle, and Murillo’s lob attempt came back off the post.

56′ – The Red Bulls continually failed to capitalize on chances, and they paid for it. BWP put a header over the bar under pressure from substitute RJ Allen leading to penalty shouts, but with nothing given, NYCFC went down the other end and took the lead against the run of play. David Villa fed Maxi Moralez with a beautiful one-touch redirect, and the visitors were ahead, stunning the home crowd.

69′ – Finally, the Red Bulls grabbed a chance. Sascha Kljestan went down under the box under a clumsy challenge from Allen, and the referee pointed to the spot. Gonzalo Veron, just off the substitutes bench five minutes prior, stepped up to take the penalty and buried it right down the middle.

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Man of the Match: Sascha Kljestan

Goalscorers: Moralez (56′), Veron (70′)

NYCFC’s David Villa earns Spanish National Team recall

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A familiar face will be back in training with the Spanish National Team next week ahead of a pair of crucial World Cup qualifiers.

Spain manager Julen Lopetegui made the surprising selection of New York City FC Designated Player David Villa in his 26-man squad to face Italy in Madrid on September 2 and Liechtenstein on the road on September 5. It’s Villa’s first national team call-up since the 2014 World Cup.

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The 35-year-old has starred for NYCFC since joining the club in 2014 ahead of its inaugural season. Since then, he’s been tearing up MLS, scoring 60 goals in 87 matches and becoming one of the league’s most-feared attackers.

His goal-scoring acumen clearly was noticed by Lopetegui, who said in a press conference announcing the squad Friday that he believed Villa could offer something to the squad.

The call-up is a huge boost for MLS. Most European and South American national team coaches refuse to call in players playing in MLS, but Sebastian Giovinco’s recent Italy call-up and Villa’s Spain call-up may be the start of a new trend of MLS stars still keeping their national team status.