As momentum builds toward Major League Soccer’s 26th season in 2021, Sporting Kansas City players and coaches will look to lay the foundations for another successful campaign when preseason training unfolds this month in Arizona.
With newcomers joining familiar faces for the 2021 preseason presented by Children’s Mercy, SportingKC.com has launched the “Sporting Preseason Spotlight” web series to acquaint supporters with the goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards who will help Sporting Kansas City compete for silverware in 2021. To read up on every player and visit the series archive as it expands, head to SportingKC.com/Spotlight.
The 2020 USL Championship Young Player of the Year belongs to Sporting Kansas City. After showcasing his quality in the second division over the last three seasons, 21-year-old Wilson Harris is looking to make a successful transition to Major League Soccer in 2021. The Sporting KC Academy product has an insatiable goal scoring appetite, and if his progression continues well into the future, the club could have a blossoming star in its ranks.
In three USL Championship seasons with Sporting Kansas City II, Harris started 39 of 56 appearances and averaged 0.64 goals per 90 minutes played. He was the top-scoring teenager in American professional soccer in 2019, finishing the year with 12 goals in 25 USL Championship appearances. His dozen goals—which included a sizzling run of 10 strikes in his final 11 appearances—equaled the league’s single-season record for a teenager.
After joining the Sporting Kansas City Academy in 2017, Harris inked his first professional contract for Sporting KC II the following year and ended the 2018 USL Championship campaign with three goals in 15 games, including seven starts. A native of Los Angeles, Harris had prolific stints in the Seattle Sounders FC Academy and Real SoCal Academy before moving to Kansas City.
The 2020 USL Championship season saw Harris play a leading role for Sporting Kansas City II as one of the league’s most prolific strikers. In addition to scoring a team-best eight goals and appearing in all 16 matches during an abbreviated season, he became the youngest player to eclipse 20 career goals in USL Championship history. Last November, he became the first Sporting KC II player to be named USL Championship Young Player of the Year.
With forwards Gerso Fernandes and Erik Hurtado departing this offseason, the door has opened for Harris to contend for minutes in Sporting’s attack. While it will be tough to displace Mexican striker Alan Pulido in the starting XI, Harris could have an important role to play off the bench. He also stands a chance of continuing to bang in the goals on loan with Sporting KC II.
Harris was the youngest USL Championship player to score eight or more goals in 2020. He hit that tally on only 28 shot attempts and posted a shot conversion rate of 28.6%, the highest of any player to reach the eight-goal threshold.
He Said It
“Wilson Harris has improved tremendously in terms of his game, and he’s a goal scorer. Look, it’s not easy to score 20 goals in the USL Championship at 20 years old. And he’s not only scoring goals. He’s performing well, playing between the lines, connecting with the wingers and making good runs in behind to get himself in good places. His defensive work has improved immensely.”
Sporting KC II head coach Paulo Nagamura remarking on Harris in October 2020.
Did You Know?
Wilson Harris shares the same favorite musical group as the person who wrote this article: Led Zeppelin. On the same topic, Harris’ brother works in the music industry in Los Angeles.
As for his unusual @nosliwharris Twitter and Instagram handles, “nosliw” is “Wilson” spelled backwards.