Jordan Harvey was an LAFC original, and coincidentally, also a Philadelphia Union original, the first player to play for both teams ahead of their 2022 MLS Cup Final showdown on Saturday at Banc of California Stadium. In his first year after a long playing career, Harvey has stayed busy, which you’ll learn about below, but he was able to take a few minutes of his time this week to catch up. Thanks to Jordan for taking the time and giving some insight on the big game!
Angels on Parade: I imagine it must be a little bit bittersweet, seeing LAFC make the final the first year after you finish playing. Tell me your thoughts on that.
Jordan Harvey: No, not at all. I’ve been with LAFC since the beginning, and there were moments I didn’t play with LAFC. It’s similar to that, you’re kind of just a cheerleader on the sideline. Now, I’m still working in so many different areas at LAFC — on the community and partnerships, working in doing methodology for camps, working with the academy coaching, worked with the first team. Steve and the coaching staff was kind enough to let me kind of be a fly on the wall the first few months through preseason, the first few months of the season. And so, man, I’ve just been living my best life over here at LAFC and so I am all for the success regardless if I’m playing or not, because I’m black-and-gold through-and-through and that’s going to be where I want to be for my post-career.
So no, not bittersweet at all. The last year was a tough year, that was hard, in ‘21. This year it’s been awesome because I’ve got to work with a lot of these new guys coming in, work with the young guys, worked with some of the old guys early on like [Ryan] Hollingshead and cut tape and show them the different nuances of LAFC’s style. And that was really fun for me to be able to share this kind of gift that I got later in my career with these guys that are just coming in and so it was a fun role for me early on. And then now I’d say the last seven months I’ve been more so off the field working with what will be [MLS] Next Pro next year and [John] Thorrington and Will Kuntz have allowed me to be a part of a lot of the scouting conversations, acquisitions and see kind of all aspects of soccer operations. So it’s been really cool and I mean, I’m right there with Thorrington, our technical director, Marco Garces and like, just jumping up and down for every goal [in the stadium]. So it’s exciting and I’m really happy to still be a part of it in all honesty.
It sounds like kind of a best case scenario for a player retiring. You get to maintain a role with the club, but it sounds like you’re getting a little bit of a job experience and a lot of different roles so you can kind of figure out what your path is going to be moving forward. Does that sound right?
100%. And so the goal at the end of this year, which is right around the corner, is to sit down and have those conversations and see hey, what was I best utilized for, where’s my value within this club? What do I enjoy doing? What do I not enjoy doing, probably is more important, and hone in kind of the role moving forward, but this year has been awesome. And the success of the club makes it even more sweeter in all honesty. You’re not wrong with that question, in the sense that obviously, [unlike] a player you’re not contributing, you’re not on the field. So that’s been the hardest part for me, but it’s never been bittersweet. It’s always been okay, where do I find my role? Where do I find my value? And what is that “win” that I’m looking for that I’ve played in the last 16 years every weekend trying to find what is that now off the field? That’s been tough for me.
You, obviously, a long, long time ago played for the Union as well and you remain a beloved figure there. What do you make of this particular match, LAFC against the Union? And what are you looking for from Philadelphia coming into this game?
So Philadelphia’s changed a lot since I’ve been there. All around, players, staff, everything. They’ve now thrown out those renderings for the new complex, which is gorgeous. The on the field stuff is where it’s so interesting. And it’s such a cool matchup because I covered on the broadcast, Philly and LAFC playing earlier in the season at Banc of California Stadium. And it was really cool to see kind of what style would win out. And it’s a contrast of styles, where LAFC likes to control the ball, the tempo, both teams are high energy, high press. LAFC is more methodical, trying to build out, break down the team, find little pockets that you can find them penetrating passes, and if you can’t find those then to maintain possession in the attacking half. Philadelphia Union’s like, just like win the ball and go. You see that all over the world now. All the Red Bull teams kind of do it. You know, Leeds.
It’s just this high energy, kind of resembles the city in a sense. It’s just a hard workers team. They’re so organized. There’s a beauty to how they play and LAFC and the Union are completely different. So it’s really cool that they’re matching up in MLS Cup.
A lot of times when we see finals, they tend to be pretty cagey. The teams are often kind of nervous or they, at least from the outside, appear to be playing kind of nervously. Nothing has separated these two teams the last three games that they’ve played each other. Obviously earlier this season they drew, it seems like this is going to be a game with goals. Is that your impression as well?
Certainly both teams after they played that game started to score more and more goals. Philadelphia Union just kind of going on a tear, beating teams by large margins. LAFC had their moments as well and doing the same. You would think but the game, at The Banc [this season] wasn’t like that.
So it’s really so contrasting, it’s like what style wins out? If there is a goal early, then how do the other team react? How do they react to that goal and then moving forward to substitutions and all of it is just super interesting to me. Steve Cherundolo has done an awesome job with that. Will Kuntz, Thorrington obviously did an amazing job giving this staff the depth to be able to make great changes throughout the match.
Philadelphia Union, it’s been completely different, they’ve kept the same lineup a majority of the games. They’ve thrown in [Jack] McGlynn here and there as a young creative piece, which he’s super exciting to watch as well. And they’ve just kind of grinded it out this season. So two totally different styles, two totally different ways that they’ve gotten here. And yeah, I mean, it would be great if there were a ton of goals, but I honestly think given the last way they played the last time they played Philadelphia Union defended so well. They broke just a few times and they were so organized defensively that it limited LAFC’s good chances.
...Considering how quickly these teams can score.,I guess that’s kind of somewhere in between, but I see it as a low scoring game in all honesty, and as you said, MLS cup is like there’s so much energy that usually it takes about 30 minutes to for things to kind of unfold. With all this said, it could be such a high scoring game because these teams can do it. So I mean, it’s anyone’s guess.
Of course. That’s why we play the game. Last thing for me, if LAFC win this game, they get MLS Cup. They win the double this year. What would that mean for the club?
For the club, it’s only been five years, but it feels like we’ve been so close for a long period of time. That sounds strange, but from day one, we felt like we could win trophies.
In 2018, we came close with the Open Cup, lost in penalties. Obviously ‘19, had Supporters’ Shield, lost in a weird way to Portland in Open Cup obviously, and in those years lost in the playoffs in strange ways it felt like, to Salt Lake and then Seattle. And then in 2020 came close again, in the MLS is Back [tournament], lost in penalties. ‘21 was just a tough year. Even the Champions League [in 2020], came very close to winning the Champions League, so we’ve been so close.
It’s only been five years but we feel like it’s been tough to get that big trophy other than Supporters’ Shield and so this is just something that honestly it’s going to be exhilarating. It’s going to be exciting. The club has put a lot into this year, bringing in the players that we have, the depth. It will be a massive moment and man, the guys who have been here from the beginning, know that it’s tough and you’re not gonna be able to do this every year. But man, we feel like we have a chance. We have a chance every year.
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