California Gem

Harvey playing well in Vancouver

When Vancouver Whitecaps FC player Jordan Harvey returns home to Mission Viejo, California, one of the first things that he does is go over to his sister’s place to visit his four nieces.

“They’re a huge part of my life,” says Harvey. “Whenever I go home, I always go over and spend time with my nieces.”

As any awesome uncle does, Harvey always makes sure to hook them up with some sweet swag. So when he became a member of Whitecaps FC, he immediately thought of his nieces.

“After I got traded here, I was in a panic to try and get them stuff to rock during our games.”

The way he played down the stretch, there looks to be plenty of time to get more ‘Caps gear.

Another type of pitch

Growing up, Harvey played two main sports. The first was soccer, and the second was baseball. His dad Jack played baseball and coached him through his youth.

“I really loved baseball and I still do,” tells Harvey. “I played catcher, outfield, second base, third base, a little short stop. I tried to pitch but I wasn’t very good at that.”

Like many other ‘Caps players though, Harvey was eventually left with a choice.

“My club soccer team was pretty good and my coach there kind of pushed for players to try out for the Olympic Development Program. Once I started making those teams, I thought I could pursue soccer into college, but never professionally.”

Then, during his freshman year of high school, he was asked to go to Bradenton, Florida, to take part in the United States U-16 national team residency program, and at that point he realized he could pursue a professional career.

Well connected

Each time Harvey – a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – steps onto the field for an MLS match, it seems he runs into a friend on the opposing team from his days in residency with the U-16 national team.A couple of weeks ago, it was FC Dallas assistant coach John Ellinger.

“He was a huge influence on me,” praised Harvey. “He was my coach in Bradenton and he really was like a father figure to me out there.”

Before that it was Santino Quaranta on D.C. United, and a couple matches before that it was Tyson Wahl from Seattle Sounders FC, who followed Mike Magee from LA Galaxy. And the connections don’t end there either.

“I was playing with Justin Mapp on Philadelphia Union, and I’m close with Chad Marshall from Columbus Crew,” continued Harvey. “A ton of guys who I played with on the U-16 national team moved on and are in the league now.  It was a really good team.”

Road less travelled

Vancouver is the third stop for Harvey in his MLS career, and he’s enjoyed every step of the journey so far.

 “I feel like each place I’ve gone I’ve really come to call it home,” explained the 27-year-old Californian.

His first stop was in Colorado to play for the Rapids. “It was tough off the bat. It was a good team, a playoff team. As a rookie, it’s hard to crack that lineup. I don’t think I was really ready my first year.”

Eventually he did crack the lineup and ended up leading the team in minutes played in 2009. He credits current Rapids head coach Gary Smith and captain Pablo Mastroeni for pushing him to improve, and he enjoyed facing his former Colorado mates in the last match of the season.

“I’m always up for games against former teams. It’s fun to see old faces and compete against guys who you used to see day in and day out.”

He then moved on to Philadelphia to play for the Union after he was selected as their first pick in the 2009 MLS Expansion Draft. He enjoyed his time on the east coast and was part of a stingy Union defence this season before being traded to Vancouver on July 7 of this year.

“I’d been following the Whitecaps organization and when I got the news, I was very excited,” said Harvey. “The first week I was here I saw huge potential and a lot of talent in this group. There are a lot of good things coming out of Vancouver.”

A left back by trade, Harvey grew up idolizing Paolo Maldini because of his grit and smarts and Roberto Carlos because of his renowned attacking ability. In recent matches, however, Harvey has been excelling for the ‘Caps as a left midfielder, showing the same versatility he used to display on the baseball field.

Off the field, Harvey is an avid guitar player and lists Of a Revolution, Jack Johnson and Ben Harper amongst his favourite artists. He’s also very pleased to be back on the west coast and he’s loving Vancouver. That means plenty more Whitecaps gear for his four nieces, each of whom is named after a gem: Ruby, Pearl, Opal and Garnet.

So it’s fitting then that he enjoys spending time with them, because in Jordan Harvey, the ‘Caps have discovered a gem of their own.