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Neilson: “Ian Harkes is on USMNT’s radar”

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.


  1. Well, to be honest, I don’t think I. Harkes is USMNT material, at least not now, or probably never. They’re a lot of guys ahead of him right now

  2. I’d be disappointed if Harkes is actually on the USMNT radar at this point. To be frank, it would appear that his recognition is based on his fathers name and playing in europe.

  3. Was never overly impressed with Harkes when he was with DC United, and considering that Dundee was only playing in the 2nd division of a weak league (SPL) I’d have a hard time believing that he is honestly a better option than others who have yet to receive a call up, or received much time under Berhaulter.
    At a very minimum the English Championship, Bundesliga 2, and MLS teams in the top half of the table have to be considered a higher level than SPL-2. That places the following players at ahead of Harkes….
    Morales (B-1), Holmes (E-2), Green (B-2), Pomykal (MLS), Aaronson (MLS), and Hyndman (MLS). Hell, I think you could argue that Roldan has been playing at a higher level than Harkes…and he’s been fairly poor for the USMNT.

    Taking all this into consideration I’d be fairly disappointed if Harkes were to receive a call-up before Green & Hyndman.

    • I have suggested players should do what Harkes did, modulate ambition, go someplace where they play. Under Berhalter this only makes sense, as his selections seem to favor playing time as an end in itself, regardless where it is played. I get what you’re saying, and agree with it to some extent — what about actual talent? what about where you’re playing? — but the news that getting regular minutes in the Scottish second division gets you on the radar, as well as the way some players like Weah have been treated, should be a strong hint to players focused on name brand teams and ambition. This is not Klinsmann. The coach is not trying to identify the best players even if they are stuck on II teams or picking up splinters. The coach is obsessed with “form” and more specifically first team minutes. Yours is a normative response, you don’t like it. But the cold blooded, factual response of NT ambitious players should be to go someplace and get minutes.

      • Getting minutes in the Scottish 2nd tier is like getting minutes in the USL honestly. It’s extremely unimpressive.

      • I agree that player form and consistent playing time is important. I agree that players need to move around to find a team and level of play/competition that best gives them an opportunity to achieve consistent playing time & form.
        However, players need to challenge themselves and not settle for being the big fish in the small pond. Additionally, if there are players who are achieving the same objective at clubs/leagues of a higher level than they should be considered ahead of a player who is achieving the objective in a very, very weak club/league (SPL-2).
        Harkes struggled to make an impact in MLS with a team that was Mediocre/Poor. He moved to SPL-2 and achieved some success. Hyndman a couple years ago was loaned to an SPL club and performed well…yet when he joined Atlanta he had to work his way into the starting XI. Before Covid-19 he was a starter and was performing well at an MLS Club that is arguably much more competitive than Dundee.
        Both Hyndman & Harkes are roughly the same age. Both play the same position, and have similar stats. Yet the discussion is that Harkes’ is on the cusp of receiving a call-up…Despite playing for a weaker club in a weaker league.
        – Holmes is in a vastly superior league and has been receiving accolades & honors.
        – Green while not seeing as many minutes was in a better league and was a consistent starter.

        If you want to discount Pomykal & Aaronson for the concept that they would have been involved with the Olympic Qualifying Team….fine. But as long as there isn’t a conflict with a U-23 Camp/Competition I’d still much rather have them than an SPL-2 player.

        If Harkes & Dundee succeed in the SPL next season…than he’d maybe be worth a call-up. Till then no thanks.

    • This seems like an exaggeration. I could see they were thinking about calling him in for the March Europe camp as MLS was just starting and several mls regulars were also playing CL matches. Dillon Powers has played more for DU since arriving in January at the same position.

      • U23s were also unavailable for March camp in Europe because of qualifying, you can see why they were digging deep.

      • We have a plethora of box to box mids. If he doesn’t excel in the Scottish premiership which is extremely top heavy then I have no interest in seeing him suit up for the USMNT.

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