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Harmse returns to Whitecaps

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Kevin Harmse
Kevin Harmse’s career has come full circle.

The South Africa-born, Coquitlam B.C.-raised midfielder and defender has signed with the Whitecaps, after spending camp with the club. He was in the team’s dressing room after the 4-2 opening day win over Toronto FC.

“Kevin is a physical player with MLS experience,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Teitur Thordarson in a release. “It is important to have local players on the team, and he’s a Vancouver boy, who has played on the top level.”

Harmse spent 2004 and 2005 with the Whitecaps, in the club’s USL days. He then went to try playing in Slovakia, but signed with MLS and the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007. He was dealt to Toronto FC and spent 2008 and some of 2009 with the team. He was sent to Chivas USA, a trade triggered by a request from Harmse, and didn’t play. He was dealt to Houston, but a knee injury prevented from playing there, leading many to believe his career was done.

Harmse’s most notable contribution during his time with TFC was scoring for the Reds against the Whitecaps during the 2009 Nutrilite Canadian Championship. That was the decider in a 1-0 win at BMO Field. He was used in the defence and midfield, but, he was most effective when then-Toronto coach Chris Cummins used him on the wing. Harmse, to say the least, is a physical player, and he was able to make some bulldog runs when used there.

“He’s a great athlete, people don’t realize it,” Cummins said of Harmse back in 2009 after an impressive performance on the left wing against New York. “He’s very quick… he’s got a lot of stick. I’m not sure he deserves it.”

The Whitecaps may need Harmse in the centre of the defence for Saturday’s match in Philadelphia. Both Jay DeMerit and Michael Boxall, who started in the centre of the defence last week, are on international duty this week, and Harmse offers coach Teitur Thordarson the option of starting a player who has some MLS experience.

But Harmse, as nice as this story is for Whitecaps fans, comes with a lot of baggage. He is a player who carries a reputation for accumulating cards, and doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt from referees. With an MLS mandate in place urging refs to be more liberal in handing out cards and calling fouls in the box, Harmse could be a targeted man. To be fair, Harmse actually cut down on the cards during his time with TFC, but he needs to keep his emotions in check.

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