D.C. United announced the signing of academy product Ian Harkes to a Homegrown Player contract on Monday, securing the services of NCAA soccer's best player in 2016 and the son of a club legend.
The son of former United great and longtime US national team star John Harkes, Ian becomes the ninth Homegrown signing in D.C. history, following in the footsteps of standouts Bill Hamid, currently United's starting goalkeeper, and Andy Najar, a Honduran international now with Belgian powerhouse Anderlecht. Harkes joined United's academy in 2009 and captained the club's Under-16 and U-18 sides.
“We are thrilled to have reached an agreement to sign Ian as a Homegrown player,” said United general manager and VP of soccer operations Dave Kasper in a club release. “He has developed into a high-level midfielder who has all the tools to be successful in MLS. We look forward to having Ian back wearing the United badge."
Harkes captained Wake Forest University to the 2016 College Cup final, where the Demon Deacons lost the national championship to Stanford in a nail-biting penalty-kick shootout at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. A two-way central midfielder from Fairfax, Virginia, he scored the game-winning goal in double overtime of Wake's College Cup semifinal win over Denver, capping a stellar season in which he scored five goals and four assists in 23 games as the Demon Deacons rolled to a 19-3-3 overall record.
He later won the 2016 MAC Hermann Trophy, the award recognizing NCAA Division I soccer's top player, and was also honored as the Atlantic Coast Conference's midfielder of the year, MVP of the ACC tournament and the most outstanding offensive player in the NCAA tournament. He also earned a call-up to the US U-20 national team in 2014.
“I’ve known Ian nearly his entire life and have watched him develop into one of the nation’s best young talents," said D.C. head coach Ben Olsen. "He has all the tools to succeed at the next level and I look forward to being a part of his pro career."
Harkes, 21, started in each of the 82 games he played in during his four-year career with Wake Forest, scoring nine goals while assisting on 18 others. He becomes the fourth player acquired by United thus far this year, with the Black-and-Red also picking up Maryland defender Chris Odoi-Atsem (12th overall pick), Monmouth goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky (34th) and Radford defender Jo Vetle Rimstad (43rd) in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.