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Season review: Jordan Harvey

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Editor’s note: At the end of the 2010 season, we posted a series of season reviews of every Philadelphia Union player. Over the next several weeks PSP continues with a review of the 2011 season.

Jordan Harvey is a Union original. Acquired from Colorado in the 2009 MLS Expansion Draft, Harvey featured in 46 of the Union’s 47 matches before being dealt to the Vancouver Whitecaps for allocation money on July 7, 2011. It may be too early to reminisce, what with only two years on the books, but Jordan Harvey was a member of that special group of eleven that donned the blue and gold for the franchise’s first ever match.

Sure, there were highs and lows during that first season, specifically a large number of defensive bobbles and miscues, certain of which fell on Harvey’s shoulders. But with the arrival of Sheanon Williams, a consistent back four of Harvey, Williams, Danny Califf and Michael Orozco Fiscal finished 2010 on a high, proving the merits of a settled group of players, allowed time to gel over a period of matches.

Jump forward to 2011. Add Faryd Mondragon and Carlos Valdes to the mix and all the sudden the Union defense is as good any around the league. Where Williams bombs forward, Harvey stays home to batten down the hatches, working tirelessly towards a clean sheet. And a second. And a third. In the end, four out of the Union’s first six games in 2011 ended with the Union’s opponent blanked and frustrated.

The defense was still conceding less than a goal a game at the midway point of the season, when news of Harvey’s transfer broke. It was a stunning departure, not only for the loss of a defensive stalwart, but because there was no cover in place behind him. The fact that the Whitecaps were interested enough to splash out what was reported to be some serious allocation cash speaks to just how strong a year Harvey was having.

So, just like that, another Union original, a fan favorite and a stout defender, was gone. In his wake, only Sebastien Le Toux and Stefani Miglioranzi remain from that original group selected in November of 2009 in the Expansion Draft.

High point

Expectations were understandably low in 2010. The Union were brand new and smelled of “we’re just happy to exist.” They wreaked of it. Still, no defender likes to concede goals. No one likes to lose. And straight out of the gate in 2011, Harvey and his defensive mates began proving their worth to the entire league as they shut out Houston and Vancouver in the first two matches of the season. A 0–1 setback against the Galaxy set the table for a home match against the Red Bulls on April 9. Winning a rivalry game is sweet. Shutting out your favorite foe in front of a rabid home crowd is ecstasy. While he was unaware that he would not complete the season with the Union, that is a win to look back on in the future, no matter what colors he currently wears.

Low point

During a home match against the San Jose Earthquakes on April 30, Jordan Harvey was handed a dubious red card by the now infamous Mark Geiger. Harvey was alleged to have stamped on San Jose’s Chris Leitch, though replays told a different tale. It was ultimately inconsequential, as Sebastien Le Toux would go on to bury the match winning penalty. But for Harvey, the unwarranted expulsion brought a screeching halt to his iron-man streak of games played (and started) for the Union.

Strengths

Being a solid, stay at home defender.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Playing behind wingers who love to drift into the center of the pitch, forgetting their defensive responsibilities, Harvey was left to put out a lot of fires. Which he did, consistently. Plugging leaks and winning possession are the hallmarks of a player who may not be the fastest or the flashiest, but whose defensive positioning and top notch effort on the pitch lead to a lot of frustrated wingers.

Weaknesses

Attack.

Fullbacks are required to constantly make full field, often unsupported, runs to join the attack in Peter Nowak’s system. This simply does not suit Harvey’s style of possession play, focusing on building from the back.

Perhaps it makes the most sense that both current fullbacks should be converted midfielders, given the run and gun style of play the Union have adopted. Prizing attacking flair and recovering speed out of your fullbacks limits the pool of candidates and with the clear intention to use their outside fullbacks as offensive cover on the wings, Harvey was well outside of his comfort zone.

Outlook

Uncertain. Given Vancouver’s rough inaugural season, the shine is off the apple and coach Martin Rennie needs to make changes in order for his team to grow and improve. With yesterday’s announcement that the Whitecaps have signed South Korean international Lee Young-Pyo, Harvey’s role with the team may have been cast into doubt. A former member of PSV Eindhoven, Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Dortmund, Lee’s credentials also include being the third most capped South Korean in the nation’s history with 127 appearances to his name. Despite historically lining up at left back, Lee’s versatility will likely see his manager deploy his new signing in the midfield.

That would be good news for Harvey, who, at 27 years of age, still has plenty left in the tank. At the beginning of the 2011 season, had you told Union fans that Jordan Harvey would leave the club in order to acquire Freddy Adu, most would have been over the moon. Looking back, however, keeping Harvey at left back and allowing Gabe Farfan to settle in a more natural left wing position might have offered the Union the consistency and solidity on the left flank that never developed during 2011. But hindsight is 20/20.

Besides, if a player had to be moved somewhere in MLS, getting to participate in the excitement and rivalry of the Cascadia Cup and all the fanfare it has brought out of the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver would be as good a choice as any location in the league.

Best of luck to you Jordan. Except, of course, when you play the Union.

*Stat chart legend:
POS: Position; GP: Games Played; GS: Games Started; MINS: Minutes; PA: Passes Attempted; PC: Passes Completed; P%: Passing Accuracy Percentage; SHTS: Shots Faced; SV: Saves; GA: Goals Allowed; GAA: Goals Allowed Average; PKG/A: Penalty Goals/Attempted; W; Wins; L: Losses; T: Ties; ShO: Shutouts; W%: Win Percentage; SV%: Save Percentage; FC: Fouls Committed; FS: Fouls Suffered; YC: Yellow Cards; RC: Red Cards

One Comment

  1. Our season definitely went down a bit after we got rid of him in favor of the turnover machine that is Gabe Farfan….

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