Though he has spent the past season playing on the big stage of Major League Soccer, Kevin Harmse is excited about coming home and playing his former club Vancouver Whitecaps next month.
The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder recently completed a productive first season in MLS, having joined Frank Yallop’s side after impressing the southern California outfit during preseason.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Harmse grew up and developed his soccer skills on the Lower Mainland. In 2002, the Canadian international was drafted by the Whitecaps before trying his luck in Norway with Tromsø Idrettslag after trials with European giants Bayern Munich and Benfica. Though he has moved abroad to pursue his playing career, Harmse cannot wait to appear at BC Place. “I’ve been looking forward to it ever since the game was announced,” he told whitecapsfc.com. “It’s going to be a great event, as there’s not been a soccer event like this in Vancouver for a long time. It’ll be an awesome atmosphere and I’m just excited to be able to play in front of family and friends.”
Though he will be on the opposite side of the pitch on November 7, Harmse fondly remembers his spell with the Whitecaps and points to the 2005 season as being a pivotal year in his development as a professional. “When I was with the Whitecaps in 2005, I was able to keep injury free, which was really important,” Harmse said. “I learned a lot that year and it has proved to be a big part of my career so far. It will be really exciting and nice to see all my old Whitecaps teammates again. I’m actually looking forward to the midfield battle with Jeff Clarke.”
Harmse’s arrival in Los Angeles came after he had missed much of 2006 with a knee injury. With one season under his belt, the midfielder feels he has been able to establish himself as an MLS player. “It’s always very important after having an injury that you do well the following year and get back on track,” he revealed. “Everything went well on a personal level for me, but with the struggles we had this season, it proved bitter sweet for me. I think I’ve become fully established in the team, as well as in the league. It’s only been one year, so hopefully it will get better. The MLS is a very good league, as it’s a very physical and athletic. It may not be the same level tactically as it is in Europe, but it’s developing really quickly.”
Playing in central midfield for the Galaxy gave Harmse the opportunity to line-up alongside David Beckham and experience first-hand the type of qualities that the former England captain brings to his side. “He’s an excellent player,” said Harmse. “His vision is unbelievable, as well as his passing and shooting technique, which are such important parts of the game in Europe. It was very short for him in terms of how much he got to play for the team this year. He does speak to guys and pass on tips, but because of his injuries, he’s had to spend much of his time dealing with those issues instead.”
The move to MLS has allowed Harmse to become an important part of the Canadian national team set-up, having appeared for his country in the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament in the United States. With qualifying for the 2010 World Cup finals on the agenda in the New Year, the midfielder is keen to be in head coach Dale Mitchell’s plans. “It’s another goal that I’ve set for myself for 2008 and another reason why I have to do well now and next season. I need to make sure that I have a spot in that team,” he admitted. “In the Gold Cup, I think we played some of the nicest soccer that Canada has played for many years. We were a bit unlucky in the semifinals against the US, but the basis is now there for the national team. I just hope it continues in that direction and I think we have a great chance of qualifying for South Africa.”