In baseball terms, Jordan Harvey is becoming something akin to a closer for Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
When the 'Caps have jumped out to leads in the season’s opening two matches, the first man head coach Martin Rennie looks for to shore things up defensively is none other than the 28-year-old Southern Californian. Except instead of using Harvey in his normal defensive spot, Rennie has slotted him in the midfield.
After winning their first two games of 2012, Harvey and Vancouver will take on winless D.C. United on Saturday (7 p.m. PT, Sportsnet Pacific, TEAM 1410 radio) hoping to be in a position to call on their closer once again.
“He’s mentally tough enough to come on and play wherever you need him to play,” Rennie (pictured right) told MLSsoccer.com after a training session at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex this week. “He can play in multiple positions and he’s ready to go whenever we need him.
“That’s important, and obviously he’s an excellent player who can start as well, so right now that’s his role and he’s embracing it and helping the team win, which is what it’s all about – everyone doing their job for the team.”
Harvey made his name in Major League Soccer as a starting left fullback and admits his new role a is a bit challenging.
“It’s difficult coming on,” Harvey said. “I haven’t really done that in my career, so it’s kind of a fine line when you’re warming up, getting on and getting in the game as quickly as possible. Martin has put me in situations when we’re defending – we’re up goals and I come on to just seal it up. Right now, I’m just trying to get in there, prove myself, and hopefully get a starting spot.”
Harvey played in midfield near the end of last season following the signing of Carlyle Mitchell, who slotted in at centre back, pushing Alain Rochat out to the starting left fullback position that Harvey had occupied after originally joining from Philadelphia Union.
The role of “closer” is particularly different for Harvey, considering he led the Union in minutes played during both of his seasons in Philadelphia.
“As a defender, you don’t generally come on late if you’re not starting,” Harvey said. “But I’ve been coming on in this midfield role to seal things up, and it’s different. I’m adapting, and luckily the games have gone our way in terms of getting goals, and then me coming on late and being able to contribute.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.