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Ian Harkes Grateful For Opportunity With New England Revolution
“It is a little bit surreal, especially just with how much time I spent here before and now it’s kind of coming full circle. So, it’s great to be back.”
The New England Revolution officially announced the acquisition of Ian Harkes on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old midfielder joins the Revolution after spending the last four and a half years with Scottish Championship side Dundee United FC. The midfielder appeared tallied 12 goals and 12 assists in 165 matches.
“I’m extremely grateful,” Harkes said about joining New England. “The talent that’s out here, the players, this is a very strong team and obviously they’re doing very well in the league. So like I said, it’s a privilege to join them and help the team in any way I can.”
Harkes is a familiar name to Revolution fans as Ian’s father, John Harkes, played three seasons with New England (1999-2001). The duo will become the first father-son duo to play for the Revolution.
But Bruce Arena is also quite familiar with the family. New England’s head coach and sporting director has known the Harkes for 40 years as he coached his father.
“We were neighbors in Fairfax and his father John played for me at the University of Virginia and his mother was a soccer player there too,” Arena said. “We’ve known each other probably close to 40 years.”
The head coach and sporting director believes that Harkes will be a helpful addition to New England’s 2023 roster.
“He’s a good, solid player. He can play in a variety of positions in the center part of midfield,” Arena said. “He’s a good athlete, he works hard, and he’s an honest player whose technically good. He’s smart, he’s going to help us.
“Four years in Scotland has helped him,” Arena added. “I think you get tough there. The way they play there makes it a hard-nosed league and I think it toughened him up a little bit so we’re looking forward to seeing how he’ll contribute.”
Harkes also added that it is a privilege to be coached by Arena.
After Harkes’ time in Scotland, the midfielder feels that he has grown as a player. Beyond the physicality, Harkes believes he has increased the speed of his play along with becoming a more mature player.
“Like I said, I was just out of college last time with D.C. United, so spent two years in the league and really enjoyed it, but I’ve grown a lot and matured a lot as a player,” Harkes said. “Hopefully, I think through the game a little bit more. I’m a box-to-box midfielder, so I want to bring energy and bring quality in the final third.
“I think it was a little bit of a change, just with the demands of the game in terms of physically what you had to do over in Scotland, so that was a little bit of an adjustment,” Harkes added about what he learned in Scotland. “But I added that in quickly because you have to get up to speed or you get left behind. That, I think the speed, playing forward quickly, and trying to join up in the attack on both ends of the pitch.”
While fans might expect to immediately see what Harkes is capable of. The 28-year-old realizes that he is entering a midfield that has some depth to it.
Harkes is hoping that he can simply add to an already impressive group of midfielders.
“[Arena] spoke to me a little bit. He told me, as I said before, the team has very good players, they’ve been doing so well this year, so I’m hoping to add in anything I can just to help the group,” the midfielder said. “But he said I’ll hopefully be helping in midfield and pushing on with the group.”
As Harkes is already training with the team, there is a chance (most likely slim) that he suits up for New England’s match against the New York Red Bulls. With Carles Gil suspended, the Revs could use another midfielder.
It will be interesting to see if any Revolution players could be on their way out of New England. The summer transfer window opened less than 24 hours ago and the Revs are rumored to acquire winger Tomás Chancalay on loan. New England could have quite the bloated roster along with a boatload of midfielders if things stay as they are.
But with the recent struggles of Latif Blessing and the absence of Noel Buck, acquiring Harkes makes a lot of sense. Selection headaches are good problems to have and exactly what you want if you are going to compete for an MLS Cup.
“It is a little bit surreal, especially just with how much time I spent here before and now it’s kind of coming full circle,” Harkes concluded. “So, it’s great to be back.”