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John Harkes

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Title: John Harkes  
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Subject: 1994 FIFA World Cup Group A, List of MLS Cup broadcasters, 1995 U.S. Cup, 1992 U.S. Cup, 1991–92 Sheffield Wednesday F.C. season
Collection: 1967 Births, 1990 Fifa World Cup Players, 1991 Concacaf Gold Cup Players, 1992 King Fahd Cup Players, 1993 Concacaf Gold Cup Players, 1994 Fifa World Cup Players, 1995 Copa América Players, 1996 Concacaf Gold Cup Players, 1998 Concacaf Gold Cup Players, 1999 Fifa Confederations Cup Players, Albany Capitals Players, American Expatriate Soccer Players, American Expatriate Sportspeople in the United Kingdom, American Soccer Coaches, American Soccer League (1988–89) Players, American Soccer Players, Association Football Commentators, Columbus Crew Players, Columbus Crew Sc Players, Concacaf Gold Cup-Winning Players, D.C. United Players, Derby County F.C. Players, Expatriate Footballers in England, Footballers at the 1988 Summer Olympics, Hollywood United Players, Living People, Major League Soccer All-Stars, Major League Soccer Players, National Soccer Hall of Fame Members, New England Revolution Players, Nottingham Forest F.C. Players, Olympic Soccer Players of the United States, Parade High School All-Americans (Boys' Soccer), People from Kearny, New Jersey, Premier League Players, Sheffield Wednesday F.C. Players, Soccer Players from New Jersey, Sportspeople from Hudson County, New Jersey, United States Men's International Soccer Players, Virginia Cavaliers Men's Soccer Players, West Ham United F.C. Players
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

John Harkes

John Harkes
Personal information
Date of birth (1967-03-08) March 8, 1967
Place of birth Kearny, New Jersey, United States
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
1985–1987 Virginia Cavaliers
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1989 Albany Capitals
1990–1993 Sheffield Wednesday 82 (7)
1993–1995 Derby County 67 (5)
1995–1996 West Ham United (loan) 12 (0)
1996–1998 D.C. United 83 (14)
1999 Nottingham Forest (loan) 3 (0)
1999–2001 New England Revolution 55 (2)
2001–2002 Columbus Crew 29 (0)
National team
1987–2000 United States 90 (6)
Teams managed
2006–2007 New York Red Bulls (assistant)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

John Harkes (born March 8, 1967 in Kearny, New Jersey) is an American former soccer player. Harkes was the first American ever to play in the English Premier League, and the second American to score at Wembley Stadium. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. He appeared in two FIFA World Cup tournaments, and won two MLS Cup titles with D.C. United, and was the second American footballer to appear in the final of a major English tournament since Julian Sturgis in 1876. Harkes is of Scottish descent.

A mainstay in the US national team midfield for most of the 1990s, Harkes was named the team's "Captain for Life" by then head coach Steve Sampson before having that title stripped from him by Sampson soon after. Harkes ended his national team career with 90 caps and 6 goals. Harkes was formerly a color commentator for the MLS on ESPN, since being replaced by Taylor Twellman.[1] He called matches in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup with JP Dellacamera, and at the 2010 FIFA World Cup with Ian Darke.


  • Personal life 1
  • Amateur career 2
    • High school 2.1
    • College 2.2
  • Professional career 3
    • U.S. minor leagues 3.1
    • England: 1990–1996 3.2
    • Major League Soccer: 1996–2003 3.3
  • International career 4
    • 1998 World Cup controversy 4.1
    • International goals 4.2
  • Off the field 5
  • Career statistics 6
  • Honors 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Personal life

John Harkes currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia, having resided there since his tenure with DC United. Harkes is a first generation born American as both his parents are Scottish immigrants.

Amateur career

High school

Harkes grew up in the soccer hotbed of Kearny, New Jersey,[2] and played youth and high school soccer with future national team teammates Tony Meola and Tab Ramos.[3]

Harkes graduated from Kearny High School in 1985.[4] During his high school career, Harkes played in four New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association championship matches and led his team to the 1984 Group 4 State Championship and a 24-0 record. He was the 1984 Parade High School Player of the Year.

In 1999, he was named by The Star-Ledger as one of the top ten New Jersey high school soccer players of the 1980s.[5]


From 1985 to 1987, Harkes played soccer at the University of Virginia under his future D.C. United head coach Bruce Arena. He was named the Hermann Trophy winner by the Missouri Athletic Club in 1987. He decided to forego his senior year in order to play full-time for the national team in 1988. That was the year the team played in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and began the qualification process for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.

Professional career

U.S. minor leagues

Harkes began his professional career with the Albany Capitals of the American Soccer League in 1989. He was a first team All Star that year.

England: 1990–1996

Harkes moved to Sheffield Wednesday of the English Football League in 1990. In a game that season against Derby County, his 35 yard blast glided into the net past former England World Cup goalkeeper Peter Shilton and earned him English football's "Goal of the Year" award. That season, Harkes became the second American (after Bill Regan, Romford 1948-49) to play at Wembley Stadium when Sheffield Wednesday reached the 1991 League Cup final. There, the Second Division (now Football League Championship) Wednesday upset the First Division (now Premier League) side Manchester United 1-0. Also that year, Wednesday won promotion to the First Division.

In 1993, Harkes became the only American to score in a League Cup Final, in a 2-1 loss to Arsenal. His goal was the second by an American at Wembley Stadium following Mike Masters' goal for Colchester United in the F.A. Trophy Final the year before. He appeared in the FA Cup Final one month after that League Cup disappointment, with Sheffield Wednesday again losing to Arsenal (2-1 in the replay, after a 1-1 draw in the first game). Harkes played one more season in England after moving to Derby County in the summer of 1993. In 1995, Major League Soccer (MLS) began preparing for its first season, which it first thought would come in the fall of 1995. As part of that process, MLS signed prominent U.S. players to league contracts. Harkes was one of the players who signed with MLS, only to discover the league would not begin play until 1996. Therefore, he, and MLS, negotiated a one year loan to West Ham United.[1]

Major League Soccer: 1996–2003

In 1996, Harkes, along with his U.S. national teammates based overseas, returned to the U.S. for the launch of Major League Soccer. MLS had signed numerous prominent U.S. players and eventually allocated them throughout the league's teams in order to create an initial equitable distribution of talent. MLS allocated Harkes to D.C. United, making him the team's first player ever. That first season, he led the club to a MLS Cup win and a U.S. Open Cup title. D.C. United successfully defended its MLS Cup title in 1997, with Harkes assisting on the match-winning goal in the cup final.

Despite the disappointment of being left off the 1998 World Cup squad, Harkes helped United capture the Supporters Shield for the best regular season record in the league, before losing in the MLS Cup Final to the Chicago Fire. He also helped United become the first MLS club to win the CONCACAF Champions' Cup and upset Brazil's Vasco Da Gama in the Interamerican Cup.[6]

At the end of the 1998 season, he traveled back to England for a two-week trial with Nottingham Forest. On January 28, 1999, the team accepted Harkes for a two-month loan period. He played only three games for Forest (including the infamous 8-1 defeat to Manchester United) before returning to the U.S. While he was in England, D.C. United traded him to the New England Revolution for the Revs first and second round 1999 MLS College Draft picks.[7] United traded Harkes in order to make room under the salary cap.

Harkes played three seasons in New England before being traded to the Columbus Crew in the mid-season of 2001. After an injury-plagued 2002 season, Harkes announced his retirement in 2003.

International career

John Harkes played in the 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cups and was controversially cut from the team weeks before the 1998 tournament by national team coach Steve Sampson.

Harkes made his national team debut on 23 March 1987 against Canada. He quickly established himself as a national team regular and was selected for the 1988 Olympics. That year the U.S. went 1-1-1 and failed to qualify for the second round. Harkes continued to play for the national team as it went through the qualification process for the upcoming World Cup. The team qualified for those games after an improbable 1-0 road victory over Trinidad and Tobago in the final qualification match.

In 1990, he was a member of a World Cup squad made up mostly of college and semi-professional players. The United States side was routed 1-5 by Czechoslovakia, but were respectable losing 0-1 to host nation and eventual semi-finalist Italy, and 1-2 to Austria. Despite losing all three matches, many players from the 1990 squad, including Harkes, Ramos, Meola, Marcelo Balboa and Eric Wynalda, formed the core of the US national team for most of the decade and played an important role in the development of MLS.

USA fared better as the host nation in the 1994 World Cup, upsetting Colombia 2-1 in a group stage match to advance to the Round of 16. Harkes contributed to the Andrés Escobar own goal which arguably led to the Colombian defender's shooting death weeks later.[8] Harkes delivered a cross from the left aimed at Earnie Stewart, which Escobar attempted to clear, but instead sent the ball past his goalkeeper.

However, Harkes missed the Round of 16 match against Brazil after receiving his second yellow card of the group stage against Romania, earning a one-match suspension. Brazil won the match 1-0 and went on to win the World Cup.

In Copa América 1995, Harkes led the United States, a guest team at the tournament, to a 3-0 upset of defending champion Argentina and a semi-final finish. He was named co-Most Valuable Player of the tournament, along with Uruguayan Enzo Francescoli.

In 1996, before the beginning of the qualifying for the 1998 World Cup, head coach Steve Sampson named Harkes "Captain For Life", which meant Harkes would be the captain of the national team as long as he wished and Sampson was the coach. He responded by leading the team in assists in qualifying and helped the United States qualify for a third straight World Cup finals appearance.

1998 World Cup controversy

However, Sampson controversially left Harkes off the World Cup squad, citing "leadership issues", although the decision was never fully explained.[6] The bitterness resulting from the omission and the irony of the "Captain for Life" title would serve as the inspiration for his autobiography, Captain for Life: And Other Temporary Assignments (ISBN 1-886947-49-X), co-written with Denise Kiernan and published in 1999. In the book, Harkes criticized Sampson for lacking "credibility to a group of guys who had hundreds and hundreds of caps among them" and "putting a huge amount of pressure on young, internationally inexperienced players", and concluded, "I can't think of one thing that Steve did right in the months leading up to the World Cup".[9] The 1998 team went on to lose all three games in the group stage, finishing last overall. In February 2010 Sampson and former teammate Eric Wynalda claimed that an alleged affair between Harkes and Wynalda's wife, Amy, had prompted Harkes' sudden dismissal.[10][11]

Harkes was called up to the national team again by his former college coach, Bruce Arena in 1999, and helped the United States win the bronze medal in the Confederations Cup that year. He ended his international career in 2000 with 90 appearances.

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 August 13, 1989 Los Angeles, California  South Korea 1–2 1–2 Friendly
2 February 24, 1990 Palo Alto, California  Soviet Union 1–0 1–3 Friendly
3 May 30, 1992 Washington, D.C.  Republic of Ireland 3–1 3–1 1992 U.S. Cup
4 May 6, 1992 Chicago, Illinois  Italy 1–1 1–1 1992 U.S. Cup
5 June 11, 1995 Boston, Massachusetts  Nigeria 1–1 3–2 1995 U.S. Cup
6 June 18, 1995 Washington, D.C.  Mexico 3–0 4–0 1995 U.S. Cup

Off the field

In 1994, Harkes appeared in People magazine's annual "The 50 Most Beautiful People" issue.

In 2003, John Harkes announced his retirement from professional soccer. He became the Director of Youth Development for D.C. United and a color commentator for soccer broadcasts on Fox Sports Channel.

Harkes was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2005.

Harkes appeared in the 2005 film The Game of Their Lives in the role of Ed McIlvenny, a member of the US World Cup team that upset England 1-0 in the 1950 FIFA World Cup.

Harkes worked as an analyst for ESPN and ABC in broadcasting the 2006 World Cup, also working in 2008 - 2011 as lead soccer analyst for both networks. Harkes returned to his role offering color commentary for ESPN and ABC in those networks' coverage of the 2010 World Cup.

In July 2006, John Harkes left his job at D.C. United to become an assistant coach for New York Red Bulls under coach Bruce Arena. He was let go, though, after Arena was fired.

A longtime supporter of childhood youth development, Harkes joined the National Board of America SCORES in 2010. America SCORES provides afterschool programming to elementary and middle school children in under-resourced communities around the country, providing soccer, poetry and community service.

In 2012-2013 Harkes worked as the lead soccer analyst for Comcast Sports' coverage of D.C. United.

Career statistics

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1990-91 Sheffield Wednesday Second Division 23 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 24 2
1991-92 First Division 29 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 29 3
1992-93 Premier League 29 2 2 0 1 1 0 0 32 3
1993-94 Derby County First Division 32 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 32 2
1994-95 35 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 35 3
1995-96 West Ham United Premier League 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 12 0
USA League Open Cup League Cup North America Total
1996 D.C. United Major League Soccer 29 3 0 0 6 0 0 0 35 3
1997 25 5 1 0 5 0 0 0 31 5
1998 29 6 0 0 6 0 0 0 35 6
1999 New England Revolution 22 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 22 0
2000 28 2 1 0 3 0 0 0 32 2
2001 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
2001 Columbus Crew 18 0 3 0 2 0 0 0 23 0
2002 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 0
Total England 160 12 2 0 2 1 0 0 164 13
USA 167 16 5 0 22 0 0 0 194 16
Career total 327 28 7 0 24 1 0 0 358 29


Sheffield Wednesday

D.C. United

Columbus Crew

U.S. National Team


  1. ^ Washington Post . 
  2. ^ Bondy, Filip. "SOCCER; Harkes, Accent and All, Back for Tourney", The New York Times, June 6, 1993. Accessed March 28, 2011. "John Harkes, the pride of Kearny, N.J., rejoined the United States national soccer team this week to resuscitate his old mates in the U.S. Cup '93 opener today against Brazil in New Haven."
  3. ^ Soccer Ruminations Recall Soccertown USA, The University News (Saint Louis University), 28 April 2005
  4. ^ Yannis, Alex. "Cosmos Spirit Infuses 2 At Tournament Debut", The New York Times, 2 June 1989. Accessed 17 December 2007. "Harkes, who went to Kearny High School, has been the most industrious player for the Americans in their three World Cup qualifying games (1-1-1) thus far."
  5. ^ Jandoli, Ron. "The Century's Best -- Boys Soccer: Top 10 Players of each decade", The Star-Ledger, November 7, 1999, backed up by the Internet Archive as of January 10, 2003, Accessed September 11, 2008
  6. ^ a b Looking back: John Harkes, September 28, 2005
  7. ^ "D.C. deals Harkes to New England". CBS Sportsline. Associated Press. 2 February 1999. Archived from the original on 5 May 1999. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  8. ^ What the world is waiting for
  9. ^ Bitter Harkes closes with blistering shots at Sampson By Jerry Langdon Gannett News Service (June 14, 1999)
  10. ^ Blum, Ronald (3 February 2010). "John Harkes Affair? Soccer Captain Allegedly Slept With Teammate's Wife".  
  11. ^ "Truth be told . . . 12 years later". Denver Post. February 3, 2010. 

External links

  • U.S. Soccer Players biography
  • Soccer Times profile
  • New York Red Bulls biography
  • National Soccer Hall of Fame profile
  • Yanks-Abroad Interview and Article
  • John Harkes ESPN Bio

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