Thursday, August 13, 2015

John Harkes eager for challenge at USL expansion side FC Cincinnati

FC Cincinnati's John Harkes
USL Feature

Former U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder John Harkes’ playing credentials are well known: first American to play in the English Premier League, two FIFA World Cup teams, two MLS Cups with D.C. United and 2005 National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, just to skim the surface.

Now the 48-year-old New Jersey native is taking on a new challenge as he prepares for his first professional head coaching position. Harkes will take the reins of expansion FC Cincinnati when the club debuts during the 2016 USL season.

“It’s a special time to be a head coach in the USL and grow this team from the ground up,” Harkes said of the club, which was unveiled Wednesday as the league’s 26th franchise. “It’s an exciting challenge for everybody.”

In the past several months, Harkes grew impressed with the backing behind FC Cincinnati and knew it was an opportunity he wanted to pursue.

“In my initial conversations with Cincinnati, I saw the strength of the ownership group and thought this was an attractive opportunity,” Harkes said. “Over the course of a few months, I was able to get out to Cincinnati, meet with [FC Cincinnati President and General Manager] Jeff Berding and talk about the ownership group. We all know the USL is a rapidly growing league and a competitive league. Once those conversations started I just wanted to be a part of it and grow this product. This is a special time for the people here.”

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