D.C. United announced this morning that they have officially signed Ian Harkes to a homegrown player contract. The Wake Forest senior would have been a top three pick in this year’s MLS SuperDraft, and is a a player who will challenge for starting minutes on day one.
Ben Olsen, D.C. United’s head coach, had this to say about the young midfielder:
I’ve known Ian nearly his entire life and have watched him develop into one of the nation’s best young talents. He has all the tools to succeed at the next level and I look forward to being a part of his pro career.
Dave Kasper, D.C. United’s general manager, added:
We are thrilled to have reached an agreement to sign Ian as a homegrown player. 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.
While tipped as a player who can play both defensive midfield and box-to-box midfield, his natural position is as a number 8. This also fits in with D.C. United’s current depth chart, where Harkes will have every opportunity in preseason to beat out Jared Jeffrey and Rob Vincent to claim an opening day starting role. Marcelo Sarvas is very likely to start the year as the defensive midfielder, and previous homegrown signing Chris Durkin is his heir apparent.
This move was another one of D.C. United’s key goals for this offseason, along with the permanent transfer of Luciano Acosta and re-signing Steve Birnbaum to a long-term deal. Despite the narrative around the league, United is building a young and exciting team: Harkes and Acosta are both 22, Durkin turns 17 during preseason, and Bill Hamid, Taylor Kemp, Steve Birnbaum, Patrick Mullins, and Nick DeLeon are all 26 or younger. The team is largely the same as it was the back half of last year, with some key improvements, and if they can recapture that magic they will be fun to watch.