Whitecaps defender Harvey relishes starting spot

With the Vancouver Whitecaps trading left back Alain Rochat to D.C. United on Thursday, Jordan Harvey is relishing the chance to seize that spot as his own.
VANCOUVER, B.C. – When the Vancouver Whitecaps traded left fullback Alain Rochat to D.C. United on Thursday, the biggest winner was Jordan Harvey.

Of course, the Californian is more diplomatic than to publicly confess his happiness at the Swiss-Canadian’s departure, but this opens a door for Harvey to play a lot more than he has this season, generally having to make due with minutes as a substitute or as a replacement when Rochat was unavailable or used in midfield.

“It feels good, obviously,” Harvey told Goal Canada on Friday at the University of British Columbia when asked about the fact he’s now the undisputed starter at left back. “In saying that, Alain was a huge part of this team and we’re definitely going to miss him. But it is an opportunity for me. Hopefully I can take it and not let go.”

In recent weeks Harvey had usurped Rochat as the starting fullback in road situations, with head coach Martin Rennie shunting Rochat into midfield due to some poor defensive performances.

In particular, Harvey impressed against the Montreal Impact in the first leg of the Canadian Championship, and put in an even better showing last weekend against the New York Red Bulls in the club’s first away win of 2013.

Since his arrival from the Philadelphia Union in 2011, Harvey has experienced periods were he was on the outside looking in, but has remained professional and bided his time when out of favour. The 29-year-old says that’s all part of the territory.

“It kind of comes with it,” Harvey said. “You aren’t going to have it easy your whole career. When I first came over here at the end of the stretch I felt like I played well, when it was under Tommy Soehn. Different managers have different philosophies and stuff like that, and you just go with the flow and hope everything works out in your favour. ... It’s just a matter of grinding away, getting your opportunities, and taking them.”

There are other options in the squad, but as a natural left-footed defender it’s difficult to imagine any player providing a near-term threat to Harvey’s place as the de facto starter in that position.

“I’ve got confidence in him,” Rennie said when asked about the player. “I think he’s proven himself to be an MLS starter. ... Jordan’s the man in possession right now.”