United midfield duo Russell Canouse and Ian Harkes received their first call-ups to the USMNT this January after impressive debut seasons in Major League Soccer. The pair are now relishing the opportunity to represent their country and are using the training camp as a solid foundation leading into preseason camp with the Black-and-Red. There is no greater honor for a soccer player than the concept of representing your country at the international level with both players understandably proud of achieving the career milestone. Canouse and Harkes are joined at January camp by United's Young Designated Player Paul Arriola, who has already received 15 caps and scored two goals since his national team debut in the 3-1 win against Puerto Rico on May 22, 2016.
Lancaster, Penn., native Russell Canouse joined the Black-and-Red in the summer transfer window and his defensive acumen along with his wide range of passing yield promising signs for the future of United's midfield. Canouse signed with the Black-and-Red after plying his trade in Germany with TSF Hoffenheim 1899 and the midfielder possesses playing traits that are attributed to the German soccer philosophy. His calmness on the ball and thirst for making defensive challenges allow Canouse to shield United's backline while also supplying the team with an extra midfielder going forward. After making a dozen appearances for the U.S. Under-20 National Team, Canouse is excited about receiving his first USMNT call-up.
"The call-up to the USMNT means everything to me," Canouse said. "Receiving the honor of being able to represent our country and fight for them through soccer is very special. It will feel great to put the Red, White and Blue back on after representing the U-20 team growing up. This opportunity will hopefully give me the extra push going into preseason with United. It will also give me the motivation to continue working my hardest and doing the best I can for our club next season."
Black-and-Red Homegrown Ian Harkes also enjoyed a fruitful rookie season after dominating in NCAA Division I men's soccer with Wake Forest. The 22-year-old central midfielder has the creativity to carve out key passes with an eye for goal that was proven when he scored twice for United last season. Harkes has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to cover a lot of ground in the midfield and refuses to back down from a defensive challenge. His father, John Harkes, earned 90 caps for the USMNT over 13 years, and now Ian is eager to get his first cap under his belt and use the experience to enhance his development towards becoming an elite midfielder in Major League Soccer.
"It’s a huge honor and I’m grateful and excited that I get the chance to play with some of the best players in the country," Harkes said. "Being in that environment will push me to be my best as a player. I’m sure I will learn a lot from the coaching staff and the players around me and I can take that into preseason with D.C. United.”
Canouse and Harkes will be hopeful that they can each make an impact at the USMNT's January camp as they strive to earn their first cap and become regulars with the national team. With a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina scheduled for Jan. 28, United fans can get excited about the possibility of three Black-and-Red players manning the midfield and representing the nation's capital for the USMNT.