With seven goals in three seasons as a Blue Demon, Harvey’s latest excursion on international duty came last week, steering his native country to an emphatic 8-0 aggregate triumph over the Bahamas in the first round of the FIFA World Cup qualifying match at the National Stadium.
The result sends the Gombey Warriors to a second-round, two-legged fixture against Guatemala on June 8 and June 16. A native of Smith’s Parish, Bermuda, Harvey’s pragmatism shines through when asked about his country’s expectations, the possibilities unbounded.
“Short term, we want to get past Guatemala,” he said. “Long term, obviously going to the World Cup would make history. We’re not playing these World Cup qualifiers to get eliminated. We’re looking to go as far as possible.”
Between plying his trade for his national team and for DePaul in the Big East Conference, not to mention a stint with IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida in the USL Premier Development League (PDL) last summer, worldly experiences have molded the 21-year-old into an improved, two-way player.
“It’s great to see how versatile Jalen is and that he does have these options,” DePaul head coach Craig Blazer said. “He’s improved tremendously on both sides of the ball. Defensively, his tactical sense. Offensively, he does have a good skill set. The best thing is that his entire game is evolving and developing and it’s a credit to him becoming a student of the game. It’s very encouraging.”
In 44 appearances and spells as a left back, center back, left midfielder and a lone forward at DePaul, Harvey can pack a punch for an already dynamic lineup. Though primarily deployed and preferred as a center back in Blazer’s system of play, Harvey has a firm grip on his choice position for Bermuda.
“With the national team, I love playing that left wingback position,” he said. “The options are a lot different from a center back role, and because I have that offensive part of me, I like that I get the chance to bring it out with the national team. As opposed to center back, it’s more of a defensive position and not getting up the field as much. Playing the role where I get to show off my skills as an attacking and defensive player is a blessing.”
Harvey, one of six international players on Blazer’s roster, has come a long way since signing his National Letter of Intent in February 2012. The rising senior recorded a team-high of five goals in 2014 and notched a hat trick against Drake University. It was arguably his best performance across the board, which resulted in Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors.
And while Harvey admits a seamless transition to competing in the Big East Conference helped prepare him for the uniformly fast-paced nature of the international game, continuity among his Bermudian teammates poses a distinct challenge.
“It’s a lot different because most of the guys you’re playing with are playing in so many different environments,” Harvey said. “You have guys playing in Norway, England and a couple playing professionally in the U.S. When you put that together, you have to figure out the systems (of play) and it’s always a challenge for the coach.
As for now, Harvey is setting his sights on a successful spring season with the Blue Demons and hopefully, a berth to the Big East tournament this fall, the lone feat that has eluded him.
“Since I’ve been here, we haven’t made it to the Big East tournament and I’d love to do that,” he said. “In the past three years, once we’ve been out, I’ve been keeping up with what’s going on in the tournament. Next year, I’m hoping to not keep up with it, but to be involved in it.”