It’s been eight years since the Union traded Jordan Harvey, but memories of his time as one of the team’s original players remain fresh.
Perhaps it’s because the deal is still one of the most disastrous in Union history. The team didn’t sign another true left back until 2017, and didn’t have a truly good one until Kai Wagner stepped up this year.
Harvey’s memories of Philadelphia remain fresh, too, even though they were made long ago. Now 35, he spent 6 1/2 seasons in Vancouver after the Union traded him there, then moved to Los Angeles FC when the team kicked off last year.
This week, Harvey has reunited with the city. After LAFC played in Orlando last Saturday, the team flew to Philadelphia and has stayed here all week ahead of this weekend’s game against the Union. The Union have let LAFC borrow their training facilities for the last few days, a gesture of reciprocity seen often around MLS.
The high-end fitness facilities and well-kept practice fields on grounds adjacent to Talen Energy Stadium are a far cry from what Harvey put up with in his time here. Back then, the Union trained in a municipal park down the road and did their lifting on equipment in the stadium locker room.
“The training facility that they have here is amazing,” Harvey said. “Those are plans that were set in motion when I was here, so it’s cool to see that they’ve come to fruition."
And there is Philadelphia as a whole, with new buildings and restaurants opening every week. One of his old haunts is still open, though: El Vez, at 13th and Sansom Streets. Harvey met a former American Idol contestant named Kim Caldwell there one night. They hit it off, and eventually got married.
“I was here so long ago that some of the restaurants aren’t even there,” said Harvey, who lived in Old City. “So I’m shocked sometimes when something’s still there, because the city’s changing obviously each and every year."
Not everything has changed, though. He still has friends in town, from Union veteran Ray Gaddis to non-soccer acquaintances.
“It’s a cool city, man,” Harvey said. "I love the character. I love the people. It’s something that I really relate to.”
Harvey has related to LAFC plenty well, too, helping the team become MLS’ best by far this season. Ten of his 29 appearances at left back this year have ended in shutouts, and in 13 other games the team conceded just one goal. For as much attention as Los Angeles’ star-studded attack gets, the team’s defense deserves some, too. It’s the league’s stingiest, having allowed just 34 goals in 32 games across all competitions.
When he hasn’t been on the field, Harvey has made time to watch one of his old teams. He likes what he has seen of the Union, and knows LAFC will be tested Saturday night (7:30 p.m., PHL17).
“They’re buzzing,” Harvey said. “I’m happy for them. I’m happy for the organization — for the fans, mostly, the Sons of Ben. Man, they deserve it.”