Michael Harrington didn’t demand a trade, but he’d made his desire for more playing time clear to Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes.
If Harrington, who just finished his sixth season with Sporting Kansas City, gets his wish, it’ll be in a Portland Timbers uniform.
“There’s a certain way to go about it, and I respect Peter a lot and the club and what they’ve done for me,” Harrington said. “Obviously, the last couple years, I’ve wanted more playing time. I was hoping to find myself in a position where that could happen next season.”
Minutes had been hard to find for Harrington in 2012 with right back Chance Myers and left back Seth Sinovic entrenched in a back line that allowed the fewest goals in MLS.
“They’re going to do well again next season,” Harrington said, “but it was time for us to part ways. It was time to go get the playing time I want to further my career.”
Harrington said he knew a trade was possible, perhaps even likely, “but I wasn’t exactly sure where or when it would happen,” he said.
Sporting KC traded Harrington, a first-round pick from North Carolina in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft, on Monday for allocation money. He made 149 appearances with Kansas City with five career goals and 14 assists. He was the second-longest tenured player on the roster in 2012.
“Luckily, we’ve kind of come to an agreement where everybody’s kind of happy and we found a good situation for me,” Harrington said.
He’ll be reunited in Portland with former teammate Jack Jewsbury – a Joplin, Mo., native, who played for the then-Wizards from 2003-’10 before he was traded for allocation money in 2011.
“That’s definitely going to help to know Jack, me and Jack are good friends and played together for quite a while,” Harrington said. “That’s big help. It also helps that he’s the captain there and a strong presence in the locker room.”
Harrington said he was originally drafted by the then-Wizards to play right back.
After returning from duty with the youth national team, however, Jewsbury had taken over at that spot, pushing Harrington into a midfield role his first few seasons.
“Jack was playing so well, but there was an open spot at left midfield,” Harrington said. “They thought I had the pace to cause some problems.”
Of course, now it’s Jewsbury in the midfield, while Harrington projects as a fullback moving forward.
“The outside back is definitely my best position and where I feel most comfortable, but I’ll play wherever they need me,” Harrington said.
While Harrington is eager for the chance to win a starting job for new Timbers coach Caleb Porter, whose squad will try to bounce back from an 8-16-10 season, he’s going to remember his time in Kansas City fondly.
“What I’ll miss most is my teammates,” said Harrington, a native of Greenville, N.C. “We had a great group of guys in Kansas City and I acquired a lot of good, close friends. That’s not typical for a professional sports team to be that close knit. … It’s a great organization, great coaches and great city. I’ll miss it a lot.”
For the time being, Harrington will remain in Kansas City, but eventually he’ll relocate to the Pacific Northwest with his fiancée, Maggie Strode.
“She’s very happy with the move. She’s excited. We’re excited about a new chapter in my life. She knew this was a possibility when she started dating me. For now, we’re going to live where I have to live. After my playing career is over, we’ll move where she wants to live.”
The couple plans to wed Dec. 7, 2013.