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Lower Merion Soccer Club's Daniel Lovitz Finds His Place With Montreal Impact

 
 

Dan Lovitz vs Toronto

Once a State Cup and National League champion with Lower Merion Soccer Club, Daniel Lovitz is now thriving at Montreal Impact (Photo courtesy of Montreal Impact)

By Dillon Friday, Communications Manager, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer

(Click here for mobile friendly version)

Nearly a decade after he last coached him, Miguel Nuila recalls the characteristic that defined Daniel Lovitz in his youth soccer days: joy.

“I saw a documentary on (Christian) Pulisic recently, where they talked about how much fun he has,” says Nuila. “I can tell you that’s the one thing I can say for certainty about Danny: Danny loved to play for fun, and he had fun playing. That was his thing.”

Nuila saw it when Lovitz was a winger for his Lower Merion Soccer Club Velez team in the mid- to late 2000’s. He sees it now as Lovitz has solidified the starting left back position for Montreal Impact.

“All those years dribbling paid off,” Nuila says. “He’s found himself a nice niche.”

In his days with Velez, Lovitz, a Wyndmoor native, was one of a group of talented youngsters. A natural left-footer, he primarily found time on the left wing, swinging in crosses and beating defenders to the outside. The rise of Lionel Messi changed that, however. Nuila saw the benefits of placing attackers on their “off” wings, where they could attack the middle of an opponent’s defense rather than the flank. Lovitz quickly thrived in this role.

“He was always concerned about the craftiness of the move or the pass,” remembers Nuila. “’I wonder if I can put this ball right in that spot, over the defenders.’ It was an intellectual challenge for him.”

Nuila also gave his players the freedom to showcase their skills. He was somewhat ahead of the game in that regard compared to the more physical, athletic competition Velez sometimes face. And in a time when the Development Academies sought out the top talent, Lower Merion’s players chose to stick with their coach.

“(Nuila) was an incredible soccer mind, and he stayed dedicated to us; he focused on every player individually,” says Lovitz. “We were able to have an unprecedented run with our continuity. We had something different going on, which revolved around skill. We took pride in that.”

Velez was successful, too. In 2008, they defeated YMS Premier Xplosion, 1-0, to win the Eastern Pennsylvania State Cup. A year later the two teams met at Drexel University with the US Youth Soccer National League on the line.

Dan Lovitz picture with coach

Lovitz (right) calls Miguel Nuila (middle) "an incredible soccer mind."

“That was pretty amazing,” Lovitz says, “YMS and us, two Pennsylvania clubs out of everyone in the country. It was a great final.”

Velez triumphed 2-0, with goals coming in the 86th and 90th minutes. That title gave them a berth in the National Championships where they eventually finished third.

Still, despite the team accolades, Lovitz flew under the radar as a prospect. His slender build didn’t exactly appeal to Division One coaches.

“I wasn’t getting any contact,” says Lovitz, who played high school soccer for Germantown Academy. “I did my best to look around. Then my junior year I got an email from Elon. I clicked with the coach right away. That was my lead. I took a visit and saw what I needed to see. We were ambitious, and I bought in.”

Almost immediately upon arriving on campus in North Carolina, Lovitz impressed his new coaching staff and hinted at the future that was to come for him. He had grown into his body, retaining his stellar foot skills along the way.

“Preseason of my freshman year, my coach asked me if I wanted to do the accelerated program so I could graduate in three-and-a-half years and be ready for the (MLS) draft,” says Lovitz. “The end of my sophomore year, I went on a trial stint with Sporting Kansas City. I saw that I could do it. (I) loved it.”

Daniel Lovitz takes on defender

Lovitz played with LMSC Velez through his Under-19 season.

Nuila marveled at his former pupil’s progress.

“Danny (was always) a classy player, but a D-I player? A professional player? I don’t know if you would’ve said that,” says Nuila. “Then he grew into his body and you see these college players bouncing off him. And he’s still technical. Wow, that’s different.”

Lovitz excelled for the Phoenix, scoring nine goals and contributing 16 assists in 80 games. He was named Southern Conference Player of the Year as a senior in 2013 and selected by Toronto FC in the second round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.

In three seasons with Toronto, Lovitz started 11 games and picked up three assists. But he failed to lock down a position, instead being used as a utility player for a club on the rise. When the 2016 campaign closed, he knew it was time to move on. He first went on trial with the Vancouver Whitecaps before Montreal came calling.

“I focused on putting my efforts to that left back position. It was a need they had,” says Lovitz. “My agent asked if I’d be willing to play there, and I said yes.”

It didn’t take long for Lovitz to settle in. He’s appeared in 19 games, starting 13, including nine consecutive as of this writing. During that streak, Montreal strung together four straight wins in August to surge back into the playoff picture (The club is in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, one spot out of the playoffs). The Impact hopes to sneak into the postseason and better last year’s semifinal loss to Toronto. Lovitz has become an important cog in that pursuit, and it’s no coincidence according to Nuila.

“The way Montreal plays, I think they play very similar to the way Danny played growing up,” says Nuila, who stepped away from coaching soon after Velez played its last game. “Montreal plays an elegant style. Elon was an extremely attractive style as well.”

In other words, the more aesthetically-pleasing the soccer, the more Lovitz excels. Now, as he's enjoying the best run of form in his professional career, he knows the Impact needs to follow suit.

"Continue with the right momentum at the right time," Lovitz says, "and peak in the playoffs."

 

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