CHESTER, Pa. – Since starring for Virginia Tech from 2002-05, Kerry “Chase” Harrison has been something of a professional nomad, playing for 10 different teams – including four MLS clubs.
And while the goalkeeper says he’s enjoyed getting the chance to live in many cities while learning from a variety of coaches and teammates, he’s ready to settle down. He hopes the Philadelphia Union, which signed him on Sept. 23, will give him that chance.
“I’ve played six years now, so yeah, it would be nice to be with a club for a few years and kind of put some roots in for a little bit,” Harrison told MLSsoccer.com. “I’ve enjoyed it for the last six years, but it would be nice to see the other side and get a little bit of stability.”
Harrison was only signed by Philly because of injuries to starting goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón (broken finger) and third-string ’keeper Thorne Holder (concussion), but he said he expects to remain with the club at least through the end of the season. He’s been serving as rookie Zac MacMath’s backup for the Union’s last three games, and was nearly called to action vs. Chivas USA on Sunday when MacMath came down awkwardly on his ankle and stayed on the ground for a few minutes.
“You just have to pay your dues and when the opportunity comes, hopefully you can make the most of it,” Harrison said. “You have to be ready.”
Harrison has certainly paid more dues than most players. After being drafted by Real Salt Lake in the third round of the 2006 Supplemental Draft, he played for a handful of USL teams before returning to MLS at the end of last season as a backup for D.C. United. He later joined the Columbus Crew during their playoff run last year (and also trained with Columbus last month before being signed by Philly).
Most recently, he enjoyed his second stint with the Harrisburg City Islanders, where he helped the Union affiliate to the 2011 USL-Pro title game, posting an 8-6-6 record with five shutouts. Back in 2009 with the City Islanders, Harrison earned eight shutouts and had a 0.81 GAA.
Harrison is the fourth ex-Islander to be signed by the Union and the second since Harrisburg’s 2011 season ended, with midfielder Morgan Langley being the other.
“Harrisburg has been great,” said Harrison. “The connection with Philly is definitely an attraction. And the coaches do a great job. It doesn’t have the biggest budget of all the clubs in the USL but they do a great job attracting great talent and preparing players for these opportunities.”
While Harrison is eager to remain in MLS, he also knows it’s important to keep his playing career in perspective. At most of his stops, he’s worn the No. 32 in honor of the 32 victims of the 2007 school shooting at his alma mater Virginia Tech.
“When I walk in and see the jersey hanging up, that’s the first thing I think of,” Harrison said. “It’s a personal way of honoring them.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin