Michael Harrington Q&A: Creature of habit defender excited about his Portland team
For a guy that always first puts on his left shin guard and then left cleat every time, you could say that Portland Timbers defender Michael Harrington is a creature of habit. A six-year veteran of MLS, Harrington had spent his whole career with Sporting Kansas City helping them win the U.S. Open Cup in 2012.
But Timbers head coach Caleb Porter was looking to shake things up a bit and needed a player who could man the outside defensive position and provide consistency. With Harrington, he found an experienced player that could go box-to-box and stay energized for the full ninety.
While Harrington still puts on his shin guards and cleats the same way, he’s excited to do so in a new city with a fervent fan base all while preparing for the 2013 season. Some things never change.
You played here against Portland as a member of SKC in 2011. What was your initial reaction to the environment here at JELD-WEN Field then and what was your reaction when you found out you’d be playing here as a member of the Timbers?
Michael Harrington: Obviously, what stands out is just the amazing fan base that Portland has and the support that is shown. Since 2011, it’s only grown. That definitely stands out for me.
In finding out that I was coming to Portland, I think that was what I was most excited about. Because in Kansas City, with the new stadium coming in and the success of the team, soccer has really taken off. I was very happy to see that I was going somewhere where that same atmosphere and that same excitement for the sport can be matched if not beaten with the way that the supporters are here in Portland. That for me has been the big thing that I’m most excited about.
You were teammates with Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury in Kansas City for four seasons (2007-2010). Once you found out you were traded, did you speak with Jack to get the scoop on things here?
MH: I spoke with Jack briefly a little bit after I found out I was traded and heard all positives really. Jack said he’s got a great feeling about 2013. There’s a lot of talent on the roster, good attacking options and some guys that really be creative in the midfield—especially with the addition of Will as well who I respect as a player quite a bit. Jack thinks the team’s going to do well and I believe so too, especially having Caleb come in and take all of his success from the collegiate level and bring that into MLS.
Kansas City has played a high-tempo, high-pressure 4-3-3 in recent seasons that pushes forward. Caleb has spoken about a similar style that he wants to incorporate here in Portland. How do you think your experience in Kansas City playing in a system like that helps you here and what role does Caleb see you taking on with the Timbers?
MH: With me being an outside back, not only is it my ability to be strong defensively in that spot but it is also to get forward, attack, and create in the offensive third as well. In speaking with Caleb, that’s what he likes in his outside backs and he’s excited that I can provide that type of game in that spot. I think it’s going to be a great fit.
One of the things he said to me was, “A lot of guys are good going forward, but they can’t defend and a lot of guys can defend, but they can’t go forward.” He said what he liked about me was that I could do both and I could go box-to-box. I have good fitness, a good engine on me that can provide that type of game for 90 minutes. I will do everything I can to provide that coming into this season.
Why is your Twitter handle @mikeymomoney2? What's the story there?
MH: (Laughs.) Oh man. That’s a combination of a couple different nicknames that I’ve picked up over the years—“Mikey being money.” You know, doing well in soccer, you’re “money.” And that was just sort of a nickname that I had when I was younger. It just kind of stuck.
Your bio says you’re a poker cardshark too. Is it related at all to that?
MH: Sure. Why not?
Coming into a new city, is there anything you’re looking forward to about making Portland your home?
MH: I had heard nothing but good things. It’s a beautiful place. I’m from the East Coast, from North Carolina and it’s very green there so I’ve definitely been excited to get back into that greenness. It’s a really cool city with a lot to do. Obviously, you’ve got the rain factor but it doesn’t really seem to bother the people that I’ve talked to which probably means that it’s a pretty cool city. I do enjoy my coffee. I’m definitely enjoying the coffee shops and different restaurants that Portland has to offer.
You get used to the rain.
MH: Honestly, I don’t think that will bother me too much.
I’ve just been staying in shape and getting ready for the season. That’s really my focus right now. I’m just excited. The last couple seasons, I haven’t been on the field as much as I’d like and I feel like I have a great opportunity here to really make my mark in Portland so my preparation will be good for that chance.