It seems Michael Harrington has caught the break he wanted. Not in the way he had hoped, perhaps, but that won’t stop him from making the most of his first start since mid-2011 for Sporting Kansas City.
Harrington will start at left back in Saturday’s home game against Montreal, after Seth Sinovic underwent surgery last week to repair a broken right hand sustained in the previous weekend’s 1-0 loss at Portland.
“It feels great,” Harrington told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday’s training session. “This is an exciting week for me.”
Harrington’s struggles last season, when he fell out of the starting lineup after 16 matches, drove him to a renewed commitment to the game over the winter break.
“I had the offseason to take off and kind of refocus, make a fresh start and just kind of start over with a good work ethic and a good mentality coming in,” Harrington said. “I knew that the team would probably be the team that did so well from the end of the season last year, so I just kind of came in, didn’t put too much pressure on myself and just tried to keep a really good mentality, kind of hoping this day would come.”
Now that it has, manager Peter Vermes said, he has no qualms at all about starting Harrington.
“I’ve got to give Michael a lot of credit,” Vermes said. “What he’s done is, he’s worked very, very, hard all throughout preseason and up until now. He’s been fantastic. That work has been as much mental as physical.
“I think Michael has matured a lot, knowing that a lot of things can happen over the course of the season,”Vermes added. “The one thing you have to make sure of from a player’s point of view is that when you get your opportunity, you’re ready. I think Michael’s attitude has been great, and I do think he’s ready.”
That’s the key for any reserve hoping to step up, Harrington said.
“It’s a long season, so the guys that are on the fringe of the starting XI need to be ready,” he said. “I’ve stayed ready, and my chance is on Saturday.”
Sinovic, who did some passing drills with the club early in Tuesday’s training session, also expressed confidence in his replacement.
“Obviously, Mikey’s a very good player,” Sinovic said. “He’s been a starter for the first four, five years of his career. So he’s got tons of experience. We’ve been saying since the beginning of the year that we’ve got tons of depth, so I don’t think we’ll miss a beat.”
Harrington had similar praise for Sinovic, who has emerged as a significant contributor in all three parts of the field in Sporting’s 7-1-0 start.
“Seth’s a really technical player, a great passer of the ball,” Harrington said. “I hope I will bring some attacking impetus to the game. Seth’s done a good job of giving service, and hopefully I can get up there and do the same.”