The Washington Post’s Steven Goff reported Sunday night that D.C. United has agreed in principle to sign midfielder Ian Harkes as a Homegrown Player. Harkes, a Wake Forest graduate and son of former D.C. and United States Men's National Team player John Harkes, is set to sign a multiyear contract this week, per Goff.
Harkes will turn 22 in March and was named the 2017 MAC Hermann trophy as college soccer’best player. While terms of the contract will likely not be made available, they could exceed the four-year, $300,000 deal that Chris Durkin (D.C.’s last homegrown signing) is reported to have agreed to last summer. The owner of a United Kingdom passport, Harkes spent the past week evaluating options to play in Europe by visiting some clubs there.
This deal would do several things for D.C.:
First, they would presumably eschew further evaluation of an Argentine player who plays a position similar to Harkes that Goff alluded to two days ago.
Second, the addition of $125,000 per season for homegrown players would be something that would be presumably used to land Harkes, and not only would D.C. reap a higher percentage of any future international transfer of Harkes, there is also language in the roster rules and regulations saying, “Homegrown Player(s) on either the Supplemental Roster or the Reserve Roster may earn (including achievable bonuses) in aggregate each year up to $125,000 above the Reserve Minimum Salary...or the Senior Minimum Salary.” This would provide some roster flexibility a la Durkin’s midseason signing/guaranteed salary of just more than $60,000 when he signed last year.
Third, Harkes’ skills and resume give him the opportunity to immediately challenge for playing time in a midfield where Marcelo Sarvas, Rob Vincent and Jared Jeffrey currently vie for Minutes. Of the quartet, Sarvas is the only one older than 26 and will probably be out of contract in 2018. Harkes’ box-to-box central midfield position, next to 22-year old Luciano Acosta and (about to be) 24-year old Julian Buescher, has the makings to which serve as a spine to D.C.’s midfield for the long term.
Fourth, D.C’s signing Harkes as a Homegrown Player six months after Durkin, next to players like Acosta and Buescher, and alongside January United States National Team campers in Taylor Kemp, Steve Birnbaum and Bill Hamid (now sitting with a knee injury), midseason acquisition Patrick Mullins and recent international acquisition Jose Guillermo Ortiz, and D.C. finds themselves suddenly with a variety of viable young assets — nobody in this paragraph has yet turned 27 — when the team christen their new stadium in Buzzard Point sometime in 2018.
Harkes is set to return Stateside tomorrow and will reportedly sign the deal with D.C. sometime this week.