Photo by Patricia Giobetti/ISIphotos.com
By JOSE M. ROMERO
One had better know his or her soccer when talking Mission Viejo with Jordan Harvey.
The Vancouver Whitecaps defender was quick to point out, when asked recently about his hometown, that the community in Orange County, Calif. produced U.S. soccer stars Joe-Max Moore and Julie Foudy. Forget about NFL quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is arguably a more famous native.
Harvey is closer to California in his new digs in Canada, and he's loving the natural beauty of Vancouver. But roughly two months after being traded from the Philadelphia Union to the Whitecaps, Harvey readily admits that a part of him misses the City of Brotherly Love.
Harvey, a fan favorite during his time at PPL Park who had a hand in the Union's early-season success this year, was a bit surprised by the trade, which saw him dealt to Vancouver for an allocation sources tell SBI was valued at $100,000.
"We were doing so well," he said. "I heard something (about a potential trade) early in the season, and sure enough, it turned into it. But I'm in a great place here (in Vancouver), it's got a bright future here. Good talent. new stadium (BC Place, opening at the end of the month), new coach.
"I got along really well with the fans in Philadelphia. That's one of the parts I'm missing," Harvey added. "The Sons of Ben is a huge following. It makes that organization what it is. I really miss that and they know that. We still chat back and forth."
Harvey, 27, was adored by fans for his tenacity, and stays in touch with the Union faithful via Twitter and Facebook. But he's far from having one foot stuck in a former place.
Whitecaps coach Tom Soehn is using Harvey much the same way the Union did — as an outside fullback who often makes forays into the attacking end and looks to whip the ball into the box. Only the Whitecaps bring Harvey up even more.
The result? "I've got more assists here than in Philly," Harvey said. "I also enjoy locking down and playing defense for 90 minutes."
Harvey had two assists in a season and a half with the Union. He has three in seven games with Vancouver.
"You need guys that hold the ball," he said. "It's fun to get forward and get into the attack."
While the Whitecaps have struggled in their inaugural season, Harvey has found the city to be full of great fans and wondrous views of the nearby wilderness. And family is only about a 2 1/2-hour flight away to the south.
Harvey sees a resemblance between the first-year Union in 2010 and the Whitecaps this year, the way the two teams lost a lot of games but had good talent that needed time to come together.
For now, there's plenty to do in Vancouver for Harvey. He's made personal appearances on behalf of the Whitecaps, trying to build up a fan base like the one he had in Philadelphia, and is considering doing a blog. He also got a kick out of watching NBA star and 'Caps ownership partner Steve Nash practice with the club recently.
"He's a good player," Harvey said of Nash. "He's an athlete. It was really funny to see him in soccer gear."
In Vancouver, Harvey is also reunited with some old friends in the white and blue. Midfielder Shea Salinas is a former Union teammate. Midfielders Pete Vagenas and defender John Thorrington are training partners in the offseason in California and goalkeeper Joe Cannon is another acquaintance.
"Three places. That seems to be the MLS way," said Harvey, who began his MLS career in Colorado in 2006. "It's rare to be on one team the whole way."