Wilson Harris scores goals.
When part of Sporting Kansas City II, he became the youngest player to reach 20 goals in the USL Championship’s history aged 20 years and 275 days old, reaching the mark in just 49 appearances during the shortened 2020 campaign.
That prolificacy saw him earn the Championship’s Young Player of the Year award at the end of the 2020 season. But one year on, after a season with SKC’s Major League Soccer squad, that path ended, requiring a new direction for the young attacker.
Enter Louisville City FC, and what’s been another prolific start to the 2022 season.
With eight goals and three assists, Harris has led the attack for the perennial title contender in the injury-enforced absence of Cam Lancaster, with the environment LouCity has provided giving the 22-year-old striker the platform to thrive.
“I think the professionalism of the club is up there with any MLS team,” said Harris this week. “I just knew that I would find success here after a few months, just enjoying it with the guys in the locker room, but also on the field just knowing that there's so much quality in this team. They were always going to create chances for me and that's what I want, to score goals, to create goals as much as I can for the team.”
Wilson Harris has scored 33 regular-season goals in the USL Championship in his career, averaging a goal every 150.6 minutes. | Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
There are reasons for Harris’ success, like the instinctual way he moves around the penalty area to find the right spot for teammates to find him and the clinical manner in which he finishes. Now flanked by players like Brian Ownby – who has notched 37 assists across the regular season and playoffs in his Championship career – and fellow former SKC II player Enoch Mushagalusa, the supply has been there for Harris to deliver.
There’s also been a learning process for the California native, though, one in which he credits the Championship for his progression.
“Not being able to score that much as an 18-year-old – I had three goals that first year – I always look back on that as a really good year for me to learn and grow,” he said. “Then in 2019, I kind of put it together and found ways to score at a higher level. I was coming from playing youth academy, where I could dominate my age, and now [I was] with grown man who had been playing for years. I think it’s instinctual, but a lot of hard work as well.”
The USL Championship's Young Player of the Year in 2020, Wilson Harris has recorded eight goals and three assists in 15 appearances for new club Louisville City FC this season. | Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
Harris’ strike rate with LouCity currently sits at a goal every 120.8 minutes, which has brought his overall strike rate on 33 regular-season goals in the league to an average of a goal every 150.6 minutes. He’s part of a new, younger contingent that has helped maintain LouCity’s position near the top of the Eastern Conference this campaign, which also includes 19-year-old Ray Serrano and 23-year-olds Manny Perez and Jorge Gonzalez in addition to 17-year-old Academy product Joshua Wynder.
The combination of the new blood and the experienced veterans that remain part of the side’s core have come together impressively under Head Coach Danny Cruz, putting LouCity one point off first place in the Eastern Conference as it goes into Saturday’s nationally televised contest against Hartford Athletic presented by Hisense on ESPN (1 p.m. ET).
Should his season progress as it has so far, it’s possible Harris could be in line for a first Championship All-League selection at the end of the year, an honor he’d be appreciative of. As good as his move to LouCity has proven so far on the field, though, the vision LouCity has shown for player movement – most recently illustrated by the sale Jonathan Gomez, who followed him as 2021’s Championship Young Player of the Year last season – could help Harris plot the next course for his career.
“I do think there’s a huge pathway in the USL now with the level continuing to improve,” said Harris. “I feel like Danny does a really good job of knowing what the player wants while also helping the player. So, whether it's through his connections or [Louisville President] James [O’Connor] and his connections, they find a way to help the player get to where he wants.”
As good as Harris’ instincts are in an opposing penalty area, his decision to join LouCity seems set to deliver more goals, and more opportunities, moving forward.