Neilson: "Ian Harkes is on USMNT's radar"

Neilson: "Ian Harkes is on USMNT's radar"

Americans Abroad

Neilson: "Ian Harkes is on USMNT's radar"

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When international football gets back to action, U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter will have plenty of decisions to make. Many of those will focus on the current pool of players and who will be chosen for World Cup Qualifying, the previously postponed Concacaf Nations League semifinals, and additional matches.

One player that surely helped his stock this season is Dundee United midfielder Ian Harkes. Harkes, a former D.C. United Homegrown player made the move to Scotland from MLS in Jan. 2019 and has continued his development abroad.

Not only has Harkes grabbed starting minutes for Robbie Neilson’s squad, but he helped them earn promotion back to the Scottish Premiership. The Tangerines were granted the Scottish Championship title after a lengthy layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and holding a 14-point lead over second place Inverness CT.

Still at a young age of 25, Harkes looks to be finding his own in Europe and will now have the chance of playing top-flight football abroad. Working with the talented midfielder for over a year now, Neilson admits the end of the current season hampered Harkes’ chances of an earlier call-up to the USMNT.

“It was a shame for Ian because the kid is on U.S. Soccer’s radar,” Neilson said in an interview with the Evening Telegraph. “There was a bit of interest in them coming across to watch him in a couple of games before the end of the season.”

“Ian has a good reputation from his own time in America and the national team are definitely looking at him. If we could get him into the U.S. National Team then it would be phenomenal, with the level they are at.”

Harkes is reportedly set to sign a new two-year deal with Dundee United after impressing this season. The midfielder totaled 31 appearances this season and over 2,000 minutes, scoring two goals and two assists. Most importantly, Harkes played a vital role for a successful club and made the most of his time on the field.

After 37 combined appearances for D.C. United, Harkes made the jump to Europe hoping to become a better player and follow in the footsteps of USMNT talents Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie. Now after becoming a consistent starter with Dundee United, Harkes will have the chance to go up against SPFL giants Celtic and Rangers next season and look to add to his already impressive resume.

“Ian ticks a lot of boxes for them [National Team],” Neilson said. “He is a good age, he is young, athletic and he has his whole career ahead of him. He has played in the MLS and the Scottish Championship and now he is part of winning a team.”

“He is a player that has so much potential and I can definitely see why they are looking at him.”

A former MAC Hermann trophy winners at Wake Forest University, Harkes has yet to make his senior debut for the USMNT. He’s played with the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team in the past, but has found it tough to impress Berhalter and his staff with many options both domestically and abroad for the head coach to choose from.

Over two years after his lone senior camp call-up, Harkes is now knocking on the door of the player pool after impressing overseas. With the USMNT having a busy schedule later this Fall and beyond, we could see the midfielder come into the fold and stay for the long run in Berhalter’s squad.

“Ian is a young player who has developed hugely since he came in,” Neilson said. “He was over in the U.S. and he had played a bit but not as much as he wanted. He had come over and had to adapt to the physicality of Scottish Football.”

“There have been a lot of players who come over from the MLS and really kicked on their careers. “Ian is now another who has been great for us and hopefully he can continue that in the top-flight.”

Dundee United are set to begin Premiership play in August, pending the COVID-19 pandemic allows for season play to begin on time.

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