Philly's Harrison perseveres in first-ever MLS appearance

Chase Harrison

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It took Chase Harrison seven years of bouncing around from club to club before he finally made his first official MLS appearance.

Knowing that, it was going to take a lot more than a rolled ankle to get the Philadelphia Union goalkeeper to leave his long-awaited debut early.

“I don’t know if anything could have happened that would have taken me out of the game,” said Harrison, who started in goal in place of the injured Zac MacMath (concussion symptoms) last Saturday against FC Dallas. “It was just one of those situations where I got this opportunity and I wanted to make the most of it. It would have been very difficult for anything to happen that would have made me come out – unless the trainers physically dragged me off he field.”

WATCH: Harrison preserves the tie

Harrison indeed managed to stay in the game for all 90 minutes, making a couple of huge saves to help the Union preserve a 1-1 tie. He also got beat up a lot, prompting Union manager Peter Nowak to call his effort “courageous” after the match.

In the first half, Harrison hit his head on the crossbar but was pretty fortunate that he didn’t suffer any concussion symptoms from the collision.

Then, early in the second half, the 28-year-old journeyman went up for a cross and come down on someone’s foot, rolling his left ankle. He rolled it again a couple of more times before the game ended, and because he had trouble planting his foot, defenders Carlos Valdés and Sheanon Williams took the goal kicks for him from that point forward.

Following Philly’s regeneration session Tuesday, Harrison said he was feeling better but was still pretty sore. He was planning on seeing a doctor about his ankle later that day.

“My ankle’s a little tender,” Harrison said. “And my neck’s a little sore from whiplash off the post. But overall I’m doing OK.”

With MacMath’s status uncertain, the Union could certainly use a healthy Harrison for a busy few days that include a game against Toronto FC on Saturday, a Reserve League game in Toronto the same day and a US Open Cup contest back in Philly on May 29.

“If I’m able to play,” Harrison said, “I’ll definitely play.”

He’s waited a long time, after all, for this opportunity, having been on the roster of 10 different pro teams, including four MLS clubs, since graduating from Virginia Tech in 2005.

“It’s been a long road to get here,” Harrison said. “It’s been a lot of hard work and I’m happy I finally had the opportunity and that the coaching staff had faith in putting me in the game.”

Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.