MLSsoccer.com caught up with Wizards right back Michael Harrington to talk about his April Fools' Day photo shoot and his thoughts on the young 2010 season.
MLSsoccer.com: Kei Kamara got you with one of the better April Fools' Day pranks I’ve ever seen. Looking back now, what are your thoughts on that?
MH: It’s just a funny thing, a good time. Everybody got a nice laugh out of it. I like to think I have a sense of humor so I didn’t take it too seriously, and thought it was actually pretty cool that it got so much exposure.
MLSsoccer.com: I remember you saying something in the video like “At least this is going to be in Maxim.” You ended up on SportsCenter. How does that feel?
MH: That’s pretty cool to see that happen. My PR guy is still telling me that it’s going to end up in Maxim, but I don’t quite believe him yet.
MLSsoccer.com: I’m assuming that was your first time on SportsCenter.
MH: Probably, yeah.
MLSsoccer.com: What were you thinking during the prank itself?
MH: The thing was that they prefaced the whole thing by saying: “We just want to have fun with it. We’re not going to take things too serious, kind of just mess around.” So the whole time I’m thinking this is kind of a big joke anyways. I guess I just overlooked the fact that it was April Fools.
MLSsoccer.com: Any plans for revenge?
MH: Yeah, I’m thinking of some things. I don’t want to divulge my secrets.
MLSsoccer.com: All pranks aside, this is your fourth season in the league. You’ve had three years to acclimate yourself to the professional game and the Wizards. How do you feel, form-wise, right now?
MH: I feel great. I feel really the best I’ve felt, confidence-wise. I worked extremely hard in the offseason, so I my preparation has really helped my mentality going into this year. I just feel very confident in the fact that I’m fit, can go for 90 minutes and do the things that I’m good at without really getting tired.
I made a switch to the right, which has worked out great so far as far as my service from that side. I feel comfortable getting forward as well as defending.
MLSsoccer.com: You started almost every game your first two seasons, and had a slight drop off in playing time last year. Did that serve as motivation for you this offseason?
MH: Absolutely. Last year was a little tough. I had an injury early on, and I think that was due to the fact that I didn’t work as hard in the offseason as I should have. I came in and got hurt, and that ended up leaving me out of quite a few games last year because other guys had stepped in a played well. This year I wanted to work hard in the offseason and get back to being fit and healthy and performing at that level that I have been for the past few years.
MLSsoccer.com: What did your first three years in the league teach you that you are trying to take forward?
MH: Just what my strengths are as a player, and how to be efficient, consistent and effective each time out. For me, that’s just playing quicker. Coming into the league, I liked to take a lot of touches on the ball. I’ve been an attacking player in the past, so moving to the back I just have to keep it simple and use my speed to my advantage on the outsides. Play quick and then get up the line and get some service in. Just rely on my strengths.
MLSsoccer.com: What has Peter Vermes brought to the table this preseason? Obviously, he was here for a little while last year as manager and was the technical director for a few years, but what has he done in a full preseason to work with and shape the team?
MH: When I think of PV, I just think the mentality he brings to our team every day. He’s been there, he’s played and he knows what he’s talking about as a defender. I think he was Defender of the Year [in 2000 with Kansas City], so I look at that and I know he’s someone to look up to, listen to and learn from. He leads us very well.