As the walking wounded continue to trudge their way back to the starting lineup for the Vancouver Whitecaps, the eye is involuntarily drawn to the left back spot, where Jordan Harvey has been the starter ever since Alain Rochat was dealt to DC United in June. You would think that Harvey would have some sort of hold on his spot, considering he has an impressive four goals on the season, including a rare goal stemming from a corner kick against Portland on the weekend. However, the backline is almost 100% healthy again, with Andy O'Brien ready to resume action, and Jay Demerit apparently making great leaps and bounds in his return from a serious achilles tendon injury.
When the backline is fully healthy, the entire roster obviously gets a little more crowded. Once Demerit is healthy, he and O'Brien will form the center back pairings, a tough break for the young Johnny Leveron, who's been absolutely stellar in his time in the spotlight. Known for his 'cool-as-a-cucumber' playing style and calming influence on his teammates, Rennie may deem Leveron too valuable to simply sit on the bench. One persistent rumor is that Leveron will be bounced outside when Demerit and O'Brien are healthy, which would place Harvey firmly back on the bench.
It's a move I wouldn't totally be against either, because having Harvey in your starting 11 is a double edged sword. While I believe Harvey can be a serviceable player on the Whitecaps roster, I only think that because of the offense he has the ability to provide. When he's not scoring, he's a detriment on the pitch because of his poor defensive play. Hey, Harvey has a great knack for pushing the play forward and he's not afraid to get his nose dirty in the claustrophobic scoring areas, but his crossing can only be labelled as weak, and his constant forays into the offensive end of the pitch means his midfielders have to always be on their toes, because if your holding midfielder isn't covering Harvey then you could be in serious trouble. That's not really a knock on Harvey, just about his high risk playing style.
I think Harvey is a great guy, but it would be better for the Whitecaps as a whole if he was a depth player. Harvey coming off the bench is a great option for Rennie, but having to rely on him match in and match out is not an ideal situation. I think a backline of Lee-Demerit-O'Brien-Leveron would be the best option for the Whitecaps defensively going forward. While they may give up some of the attack without Harvey, the Whitecaps haven't exactly had problems scoring goals this season. With Camilo, Kenny Miller and Rusell Teibert on the squad, I'm more than comfortable with this club's ability to score.
What do you think? Am I being too hard on Harvey? Can he hold onto his starting spot when the backline is healthy?