2018 is looking awfully bright for Ian Harkes. After a standout rookie season for D.C. United the 22 year old midfielder received his first-ever call-up to the United States Men’s National Team . Ahead of the U.S.’ encounter with Bosnia and Herzegovina (January 28 7:30 PM EST FS1) we spoke with Ian about his experience thus far at training camp, getting the chance to work with some of his current (and former) D.C. United teammates, and the prospect of training in freezing temperatures.
Sean Maslin: How is the California weather treating you so far? Are you happy that you escaped the sub-Arctic temperatures of the East Coast?
Ian Harkes: [Laughs] Yeah definitely. No it has been nice to get out here and train in some nice weather. It was tough to train and just get ready because you are inside with like seven and ten degree weather. It was pretty crazy down there.
SM: How did you first find out that you had received the call-up and what was your initial reaction?
IH: It is funny because I actually just came back from California. I was on vacation visiting my girlfriend in the offseason and had just come back to D.C. I think the next day I got the email and it was towards the evening or the night and I just remember that I had to read it again just to make sure that it was actually happening. Immediately I was super excited. It was something that I had wanted for a real long time and so it was really nice to read that for the first time.
SM: What has your experience been like so far working with interim coach Dave Sarachan and the rest of the staff?
IH: It has been good. I actually had a chance to work with Dave a little before when I was training with LA [Galaxy] a couple of summers ago. It has been great to be in a new environment with the new coaching staff and guys like [USMNT assistant coaches] Richie Williams and John Hackworth have been great coaches as well. They offer you different points of training and a new perspective which is great to take forward.
SM: Has having [D.C. United midfielders] Russell Canouse and Paul Arriola as well as [former D.C. United goalkeeper]Bill Hamid in camp helped you in getting acclimated to the USMNT, in terms of training and practices?
IH: Yeah I think it is great to have those guys and have teammates that you are familiar with and their play and their style of play. It has definitely been nice to have them here but everyone has been great and very welcoming and I am just excited to work with all of these guys moving forward.
SM: Have the four of you been doing any campaigning, have you been talking to anybody in U.S. Soccer to get a Men’s National Team match at Audi Field next season?
IH: [Laughs] No, we haven’t but that is definitely something that we should try and push for. It will be great having that open
SM: What is your hope for the USMNT going forward and where do you see yourself fitting in with the side?
IH: I think this camp is just a nice beginning and it is a nice opening for a lot of young players that haven’t really gotten a chance yet. So there’s obviously a lot of newcomers, myself included. I am just hoping to build off of this for the future and show well here so that I can be considered for future camps. But I just know that it is the start and that there is a lot of work to be done. Hopefully next week or so leading up to the game I can fit in as a number eight in the midfield and try to play the best that I can and give myself an opportunity. I just hope that I show well enough that I can be considered for future camps and more involvement with the National Team.