Sporting Kansas City forward Wilson Harris has been named the 2020 USL Championship's Young Player of the Year, the league announced today.
Harris, 20, was the third consecutive Sporting Kansas City Academy product to be selected as a finalist for the USL Championship Young Player of the Year, following in the footsteps of Sporting midfielders Wan Kuzain (2018) and Felipe Hernandez (2019). He becomes the first Sporting player to win the honor after an exceptional 2020 USL Championship campaign under Sporting Kansas City II head coach Paulo Nagamura.
“To win this award is a great honor,” Harris said. “Playing in the USL Championship for three years now, it’s been something on my mind to be a 2020 finalist, but to win it is just over the top. I have to (thank) my teammates, as well. They have done so much for me over the years and have really helped me adapt to the professional game.”
Harris was one of three finalists for the accolade alongside San Antonio FC midfielder Jose Gallegos and Sacramento United FC defender Hayden Sargis. Players born on or after Jan. 1, 1998, were eligible for the award, which was voted on by club management and a league-wide media panel that included representation from every USL market.
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, Harris became the youngest player to eclipse 20 career goals in USL Championship history.
A native of Los Angeles, Harris was rewarded for his standout performances when he signed a Homegrown Player contract for Sporting Kansas City on Oct. 21. His MLS breakthrough came on the heels of an impressive summer and fall in which he led a Sporting KC II outfit that played 14 of 16 USL Championship matches away from home. He notably struck twice in a 3-0 home win over OKC Energy FC on Aug. 22 and scored in momentous road victories over Eastern Conference first-place finisher Louisville City FC on July 29, FC Tulsa on Aug. 29 and Indy Eleven on Sept. 30.
Harris, who will turn 21 on Nov. 28, 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.
In three USL Championship seasons with Sporting Kansas City II, Harris has 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. Of his 23 goals at the USL Championship level, Harris has notched 11 with his left foot, eight with his right foot and four headers.
A native of Los Angeles, Harris had prolific stints in the Seattle Sounders FC Academy and Real SoCal Academy before moving to Kansas City. During the 2017-18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy campaign, he led the Sporting KC U-19s with 18 goals in 17 league appearances.
Upon the conclusion of the 2020 USL Championship season, Harris joined Sporting Kansas City for the stretch run of the club's MLS campaign. Currently occupying first place in the Western Conference, Sporting will aim to secure a No. 1 seed in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs on Sunday when the club visits rivals Real Salt Lake as part of MLS Decision Day 2020 presented by AT&T. The regular season finale is slated for 5:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports GO, ESPN 94.5 FM and La Grande 1340 AM.