Jack Harrison

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Leeds grab 1-0 win at Derby in promotion playoffs

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Leeds United spent the vast majority of the 2018-19 season occupying one of the top two places in the EFL Championship, only to fall out of the automatic promotion spots at the tail end of the season.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Championship Sunday ]

If this season’s promotion playoffs are just, they’ll be the third club — joining champions Norwich City and runners-up Sheffield United — in the Premier League come August. The problem with that line of thinking is as follows: the Championship’s promotion playoffs have historically been anything but just.

Saturday was a mightily strong start for Marcelo Bielsa’s side, though, as the third-place Whites secured a 1-0 victory away to Frank Lampard‘s sixth-place Derby County. While away goals are not used in the EFL’s playoffs, it’s still a firm advantage ahead of Wednesday’s semifinal second leg back at Elland Road.

[ MORE: Salford City promoted to the Football League ]

Kemar Roofe bagged the first leg’s only goal, in the 55th minute, set up by a stunner curler of a pass from former New York City FC (and Manchester City loanee) Jack Harrison.

Championship Focus: Aston Villa continues surge; Leeds win again

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Leeds United moved a bit closer to automatic promotion thanks to an MLS product-inspired win and Sheffield United’s slip-up against Millwall.

[ MORE: Man Utd 2-1 West Ham ]


Aston Villa 2-1 Bristol City

The Villans cooled off red-hot Bristol City and can feel pretty good about their playoff ambitions. Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham converted a penalty and Conor Hourihane also scored as Villa moved four points clear of sixth-placed Bristol City.

Villa has now won eight-straight league matches under Dean Smith, moving from 11th to fifth. The Villans were 15th when he took over for Steve Bruce in October.

Sheffield United 1-1 Millwall

The Blades couldn’t keep up, mostly because couldn’t nurse a 1-0 lead thanks to an 85th minute red card and stoppage time finish from Jake Cooper.

Leeds United 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday

Wake Forest and New York City FC product Jack Harrison scored a 65th minute goal that stood up as Leeds took a three-point lead on the third place Blades.

Jack Harrison of Leeds United (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

West Bromwich Albion 4-1 Preston North End

A Dwight Gayle hat trick joined Jay Rodriguez on the scoresheet as the Baggies built a 4-0 lead before conceding in stoppage time. West Brom is nine points clear of 7th and looks certain to partake in the playoffs.

Elsewhere
Derby County 4-0 Bolton
Middlesbrough 1-0 Hull City
Nottingham Forest 1-2 Blackburn Rovers
QPR 4-0 Swansea City
Reading 2-1 Brentford
Stoke City 2-2 Rotherham United
Ipswich Town 1-1 Birmingham City
Wigan Athletic v. Norwich City — 7 a.m. ET Sunday

Reports: Jack Harrison set for loan move to Leeds United

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According to a report by Sky Sports, which has been corroborated by the Yorkshire Evening Post, Manchester City striker Jack Harrison is set to move on loan to Leeds United for the coming season.

According to both reports, Harrison is currently undergoing a medical in London on Monday to prepare for the switch which will see the 21-year-old work with Marcelo Bielsa this season. Harrison went on loan for the second half of last year to Middlesborough, where he was unable to crack the starting lineup, only seeing 49 minutes of action in the Championship.

Harrison officially moved to Manchester City in January from Major League Soccer club NYCFC, which has an official affiliation with Manchester City.

At Leeds, there is a void at the striker position following the departure of last year’s second-leading scorer Pierre-Michel Lasogga who returned to German club Hamburg at the completion of his loan. Lasogga scored 10 goals last season in all competitions, second only to 24-year-old winger Kemar Roofe who bagged 14. Other strikers officially on the roster include Chievo Verona loanee Caleb Ekuban and 19-year-old Wales international Tyler Roberts on loan from West Brom.

With Harrison usually deployed on the right, he could also compete heavily with the more left-sided Roofe, plus 33-year-old Spaniard Pablo Hernandez who made a whopping 41 Championship appearances for Leeds last year, scoring seven goals and assisting nine others.

Harrison has impressed this preseason with Manchester City, seeing significant time in the International Champions Cup with most of City’s international players on extended rest after the World Cup. He started and proved dangerous in 64 minutes of action against Liverpool in City’s 2-1 loss, and he came off the bench for 23 minutes in the 3-2 win over Bayern Munich on Saturday. Pep Guardiola has praised his young squad for their attitude and performance this summer. “You cannot imagine how much I have enjoyed these ten days with these guys,” Guardiola said after the third and final ICC match against Bayern. “They are starving to become football players – they are hungry.  When I say something, they open their eyes and listen to you. They have to make their career and we are here to help them. I told them: if all the guys here in training every single day are curious to know what happens, I will say thank you. ”

Liverpool nips Man City in New Jersey

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Sadio Mane converted a Dominic Solanke-won stoppage time penalty as Liverpool beat Manchester City 2-1 in an International Champions Cup game in New Jersey on Wednesday.

Leroy Sane and Mohamed Salah traded goals early in the second half.

Man City started few familiar names, with Riyad Mahrez and Claudio Bravo the most experiences, while Liverpool used nine regulars from last season as well as new man Fabinho.

Second half subs included Sadio Mane and Dominic Solanke for Liverpool, while Pep Guardiola introduced Joe Hart, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane, and new signing Claudio Gomes.

[ MORE: Brighton breaks transfer record ]

Fabinho was fortunate to not give a penalty away to Lukas Nmecha within the first quarter hour. Riyad Mahrez found Nmecha in the box and Loris Karius put the rebound back to the player. Fabinho made contact with the back of Nmecha’s leg before the player popped the ball over a goal, but what followed was only a corner kick.

Fabinho then fouled former NYCFC midfielder Jack Harrison moments later.

Curtis Jones provided rare early danger for Liverpool, but Claudio Bravo had little trouble with the youngster’s shot.

Man City’s Riyad Mahrez was the bright spot of the first half hour for both teams.

Jones forced Bravo into another low save in the 33rd minute. He’d later be whistle for a perceived dive in the 43rd minute, but this was clearly a man not in the penalty-giving mood.

Liverpool made plenty of halftime changes, and Sadio Mane nearly scored in the 48th minute.

Caoimhin Kelleher stopped a Leroy Sane effort in the 53rd minute. At the other end, Solanke had a goal pulled back for offside.

That’s when Sane scored a beautiful goal, using his speed to get behind the Liverpool back line before hammering a shot inside the far post that bounded into the top of the goal.

Salah subbed into the game, and scored a headed goal moments later. He was offside, but the fans were pleased and the linesman didn’t spot it.

Salah could’ve made it two had a back post header not been cleared wide by Cameron Humphreys-Grant.

Liverpool was the better money for a goal over the rest of the match, Mane and Salah giving the American crowd plenty of reason to ooh and aah.

Solanke was taken down in stoppage time with a body check from Tosin Adarabioyo.

Report: Guardiola’s involvement helped Man City land Harrison

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Jack Harrison was all set to sign for his hometown club Stoke City. Then Pep Guardiola got involved.

Excited about his future potential, Guardiola helped engineer Jack Harrison’s $6 million transfer to Manchester City and subsequent loan to Middlesborough right under Stoke City’s nose, according to a report from ESPN. Guardiola and Harrison’s former coach at New York City FC Patrick Vieira both believe the England Under-21 international can develop into a first-team player at the club down the line, but they are sending him to the Championship for additional seasoning.

[MORE: Latest transfer news]

Harrison signed a 3.5-year contract at Manchester City, leaving open the option of another loan next season if he can’t break into the first team before he’s really given a chance to shine at the Etihad.

Having Pep Guardiola’s blessing is crucial for Harrison, an MLS and college soccer success story who is set to take his game to the next level in the coming months. Harrison certainly took the road less traveled, moving to a private school in Massachusetts before spending a season at Wake Forest and then becoming a professional at 19-years old.

Now 21, Harrison had become a solid MLS starter for a playoff team and was ready to take the next step in his career. Perhaps others will see his career path and consider MLS as a proving ground for young players.