Wilson Harris became the 13th Homegrown signee in Sporting Kansas City’s history last October. The 21-year-old striker from Los Angeles, California, engaged in a phone interview with The Blue Testament Wednesday afternoon. We started with some fun facts:
The Facts on Wilson Harris
|Cheat meal||In-N-Out w/milkshake||Activities||Skateboarding at beach|
|Relaxing w/fam & friends|
|Binge watch rec||Dark||Secret skill||Rubik's cube < 1 or 2 min|
|Gamer||Fall guys||Seasons w/SKC Academy||1 1/2|
|Seasons w/SKC II||2 1/2||SKC 2021||4 app 20 min|
As TBT chatted with Wilson, it became evident that the first-year pro is a wise youth who is not only conscientious, but a student of his trade, among other things we learned. He is pretty clever too, his gaming partners (Harris plays Pro Club as well) are goalkeepers John Pulskamp and Brooks Thompson... perhaps Harris is trying to learn their secrets...
And as Sporting heads into a July 4 matchup at the Los Angeles Galaxy, maybe Harris can celebrate a victory with that In-N-Out cheat meal. Of course, a goal to open his MLS account would be extra divine. Maybe a Rubik’s cube themed celebration?
Let’s get to the Q and A:
The Blue Testament: When did you know that soccer would be “it” for you?
Wilson Harris: “The last season of academy with Sporting. I was really heating up, and felt like, ‘Yah, there is something here. I see a future.’ I still took the leap; it wasn’t for certain, because I was committed to [The University of] Louisville. That was the safe route. But I took a leap of faith with Swope [Park Rangers, now SKC II], trusted in my abilities and the work I’d done. It ended up working for me.”
Indeed. Last fall, Harris became the youngest player to hit for 20 goals in the history of the USL Championship history.
TBT: Was there a coach who put you on the pro path or inspired you?
WH: “It was big for me coming into a professional club and getting the mindset for ‘This is what you need to do to become a true professional.’ Everything leading into that was great and set me up for my last step. But Rumba Munthali (U-19 and U-17 Academy coach) really takes in what [Sporting KC Manager] Peter [Vermes] wants the young guys to think about and take action in. He put it in front of me and showed me the way. I felt like I could understand it and really take it from there. [Then] Paulo Nagamura (SKC II Head coach) helped me come into my own as a professional.”
Harris joined the Sporting KC Academy ahead of the 2017-18 academy season where led the U-19 team with 11 goals in 10 appearances under Munthali’s tutelage.
TBT: Every player has that spell of conflict or struggle. What was yours?
WH: “Adapting to the pro game was tough as an 18-year-old when I was on my academy contract. I really had to focus on minute details that would really help me in my professional career. At the time… – it was not that I wasn’t ready – I had to really focus in on some things and eventually get past it, which helped me become a goal scorer in the USL.”
TBT: What were some of those “things” you chose to focus on?
WH: “The physicality [of the USL game] and understanding how to put myself in the right positions in the pro game to score goals. In the academy, I was so adapted to it; I played academy for four years (including stints with the Seattle Sounders FC Academy and Real SoCal Academy), and I was pretty much the oldest guy playing. I felt physically dominant.
“Being able to adapt to the speed… over time it was a lot of things. But, also, I would go over game film and focus in on my runs and how I can be more dominant, knowing that I’m not the fastest guy, but being able to break lines with what I have and keep working on my speed as well.”
Not only did Harris finish with 23 USL goals in total, but he won USL Championship Young Player of the Year and Sporting KC II MVP in 2020.
During this past preseason, Harris scored four goals during Sporting’s four matches playing in place of an absent/injured Alan Pulido. His display elicited praise from veteran Graham Zusi: “He puts himself in great positions,” Zusi said. “… The ball just seems to find him in those spots, and the most difficult part is finishing and putting the ball in the back of the net.”
Yet, Harris has seen the field only four times for a total of 20 minutes this season.
TBT: So far, your time on the pitch has been limited. Is that difficult to deal with after a positive preseason?
WH: “It is something for me to adapt to, making sure I’m still on my game, even if I’m not getting the minutes. I’ve been working after practice with Ash [Wallace, Sporting’s tactical analyst] who also helps me a lot with forward training drills. Just doing the extra work, trying to stay on it no matter what is going on and knowing that I can only control myself and keeping the mindset that my chance is going to come and when it does, to help the team however I can [is all key].”
TBT: Does seeing Gianluca Busio and Jaylin Lindsey’s success inspire you?
WH: “All the guys that have gone through a similar process as I are super-inspirational. It’s also reassuring because you have to trust the process and do the work that they did to get where they are right now. Understanding that is a big piece and being patient and staying ready for my chance to get to their level.”
TBT: Does the coaching staff tell you what you need to work on?
WH: “It is a constant process. It is like what I did from academy to USL, just focusing in on the minute details needed to start scoring in MLS. I really enjoy the process of getting better, which is something kids should start to enjoy. I feel like that has been a big thing for me: keeping the mindset of trusting what is going on. I want to get physically stronger, while keeping my finishing ability.”
TBT: Busio has always been clear about his desire to play in Europe. Do you have similar ambitions?
WH: “Definitely. I want to see how far I can take this. I think I have potential for that, and I’m going to keep working to take baby steps towards where [Busio] is going.”
Thank you for your time, Wilson. We hope to hear more from you here and on the field soon.