Russell Canouse and Ian Harkes understood the magnitude of representing their country on the soccer field. After receiving their first call-ups to the U.S. Men’s National Team in the 2018 January Camp, the midfielders rejoined their United teammates in preseason camp with an added sense of pride and focus as they prepare for the 2018 MLS season.
Canouse joined D.C. United in the summer transfer window from Germany’s TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, and quickly impressed fans and pundits after starting in the Black-and-Red’s final ten matches of the 2017 MLS regular season. His distribution, endurance, and defensive aptitude all contributed to his call-up to the national team in January. And after playing on the U.S. Youth National Teams growing up, receiving an opportunity with the senior team was a dream come true.
“It was very special. I knew a lot of the guys through previous youth national team camps so it was special to be a part of a team with guys I grew up with,” Canouse said. “It’s hard to describe the feeling of being able to put on the red, white and blue and what it actually means. I was blessed to put it back on.”
Canouse’s partner in the center of the United midfield, Ian Harkes, enjoyed a breakout rookie season when he made 25 appearances for the Black-and-Red after signing as a Homegrown Player on Jan. 23, 2017. Harkes has the creativity and composure on the ball to carve out dangerous passes while also having an eye for goal. The 22-year-old scored twice in 2017 and was third in the league for chances creates (19) for rookies who started at least ten games. After a strong first year in the league, Harkes earned the USMNT's attention as the senior team focuses on tapping into a more youthful pipeline and building toward the future.
“It was really exciting," Harkes said of receiving his first call-up. "I’d been called into youth camps before but never got the opportunity to be in the setup consistently. Obviously January Camp is another stepping stone, but it was big one for me knowing that I got my first experience with the full USMNT. There was a new wave of players and I was excited to be with the group and to be competitive, and hopefully make a good impression so I can get called back.”
Harkes and Canouse joined up with the Black-and-Red in Clearwater, Fl., at the beginning of the week and reverted their attention back to preparing for the 2018 season. After strong debut seasons last year, the young midfielders will look to up their contributions and establish themselves as true impact players with the Black-and-Red in 2018.