VANCOUVER, BC – After last weekend’s win over New York Red Bulls, Jordan Harvey received a few calls from family congratulating him for his 200th MLS regular season appearance.
The 31-year-old ‘Caps defender knew the milestone was coming up, but wasn’t sure when exactly.
Apparently his family wasn’t, either.
Turns out that this Saturday’s match vs. New England Revolution (4:30 p.m. PT kickoff on TSN2 and TSN 1040) will actually be Harvey’s 200th MLS game.
For real, this time.
“We had to double check,” Harvey joked, “but it’s a big accomplishment for me. For me being a defender, there aren’t many stats and things you can grab a hold of and say that was a massive accomplishment. So looking at that, I’m really proud of it.”
As he should be.
Playing that many games is an accomplishment in itself – and even more so considering the hurdles Harvey has had to overcome along the way.
And that started from a young age.
When Harvey was 13 years old, he was cut from a regional team. He was devastated – even more so because most of his friends were on it. Then, within an hour of hearing the news, he was called back into the team due to another player’s unavailability.
“I remember that being a huge turning point,” Harvey said.
He’s not kidding.
Later that year, the Mission Viejo, California native represented the U.S. for the first time at the U-14 level. And five years later, he became the first Californian to win the American Gatorade National High School Boys Soccer Player of the Year award.
That helped Harvey get noticed by UCLA, where he struggled to get playing time initially before emerging as an All Pac 10 selection in his final two years.
Harvey was part of the first UCLA Bruins men's soccer class to win four straight Pac-10 Conference titles.
(Photo courtesy of the UCLA Bruins)
Next up: the 2006 MLS SuperDraft.
There was one problem, though. Harvey was never chosen.
“That was absolutely a tough time,” he said. “You want to be that sought-after player that everybody wants. That was extra motivation, too.”
Colorado Rapids went on to select Harvey in the ensuing Supplemental Draft, but the Californian didn’t play a game in his first two years at the club. Instead, he was a regular in the MLS Reserve League.
While Harvey had bigger goals in mind, playing for the reserves was an opportunity he relished.
“It was obviously frustrating not getting with the first team as much as I would have liked, but those are some of the most fun times I’ve had playing soccer,” Harvey said. “I really had so much fun with those guys on and off the field. It kept me motivated and interested.”
And it paid off.
After helping the Rapids second team to back-to-back MLS Reserve League titles in 2006 and 2007, Harvey finally made his MLS debut in 2008. And the following year, he emerged as a steady presence on the Rapids back line, starting all but one of their matches.
From there, Harvey was plucked by Philadelphia Union in the MLS Expansion Draft, where he spent one-and-a-half seasons before getting dealt to the ‘Caps in 2011.
“Coming to a team like Vancouver, starting fresh, working our way up, getting to the point where we are now and hopefully where we can get to in the future, this is one of the more rewarding things in my career,” Harvey said.
There were some hurdles here too, though.
There was that inaugural year, of course, when Whitecaps FC won just six matches. Then there’s the fact that he’s had to fight for his roster spot and prove people wrong every year, it seems, including early this season when Harvey started just one of the team’s first six matches due to the emergence of Sam Adekugbe.
Throughout the good times and bad, however, Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said that Harvey has never changed the way he conducts himself. Robinson called Harvey a “good character, a top professional, and a role model” for the younger players on the team. The 'Caps coach also said he thinks Harvey still has a few years left in him.
“He probably doesn’t get all the attention that he should, because he’s just a good, solid, hard-working professional,” Robinson said. “But let me tell you, every team that’s going to be successful in this league needs players like that and I’m delighted that we’ve still got him at the club. Since joining MLS, there have been a lot of changes here and I’m glad he wasn’t one of them.”
So is Harvey.
Vancouver has truly become a second home for he and his wife – that’s why he had no hesitation signing a contract extension last year. It’s going to be a home for their soon-to-arrive daughter, too.
Harvey said it’s “exciting” that his daughter will be a Canadian-born dual citizen. The only downside, he joked, is that she won’t be able to run for president. Then again, if she follows in her dad’s footsteps, that’ll just be one of the hurdles she overcomes.
As for Harvey’s own hurdles, he feels there’s one more to go.
“The older you get, the more you realize that winning a championship is all that really matters,” Harvey said. “That’s absolutely what’s driving me right now … it’s that next hurdle I’m dying to jump over.”
“The older you get, the more you realize that winning a championship is all that really matters.”
Suffice to say, he would love nothing more than to jump over that final hurdle with Whitecaps FC.
“The competitiveness and chemistry we have, which is really rare to have both at the same time, makes this team so special,” said Harvey, who's played more MLS games than anyone on Whitecaps FC's roster. “That’s something I’m really proud of. I’m happy to reach this milestone with this team because it’s really such a great team. It’s the best team that I’ve been on.”
And he’s a big part of it.
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