Uncategorized — June 7, 2012 at 1:31 pm

La Cancha’s® Exclusive Interview with John Harkes


John Harkes is one of the greatest soccer players ever produced on American turf.  He is a veteran of 1990 and 1994 World Cups and started 16 times for the USA team during 1996. His first birth on the US national team was in 1987, and he has been involved on the national scene ever since. He began all eight CONCACAF World Cup qualifying games for the U.S. team in 1989. He started all three games for the USA in the 1990 World Cup in Italy. In total, he has made more than 86 appearances and scored 8 times for the US team. 

Harkes, a native of Kearny, New Jersey and 3 time MLS Allstar captained the MLSfranchise D.C. United in 2 MLS Cup victories, and led United to victory at the 1998 Interamerican Cup Championships.  In fact during his career Harkes not only captained D.C. United, but wore the coveted arm-band while serving the U.S. National squad.. He was named MVP of the 1992 U.S. Cup scoring two goals on the team’s road to the championships. His list of accomplishments could probably fill this page include, being Co-MVP of the Copa America Championships in 1995 and ACC Player of the year while at Virginia in 1987, etc. . However, Harkes currently plays for New England Revolution.  

When qualification time comes for World Cup 2002 it’s our quess that you’ll see a superbly conditioned Harkes serving as an integral component of the US team, and doing so well into the new millennium.
Below, Harkes tells us what it feels like to be back in action with the US National team.  He gives his opinion of what will believes is necessary for the continuing growth of US Soccer. In addition, he speaks about the impact of Women’s World Cup on US Soccer and shares his thoughts with regard to which US female player was most impressive (to him) during recent Women’s World Cup.  So sit back and relax, take another a sip of that coffee, and listen intently to America’s fabulous John Harkes.
Q: How does it feel being back in the swing of things playing with the US National team?
A: Good, very good, but it’s alot of hard work.  Playing again with the US team recently was great for me. It gave me an opportunity get me back into my game again, playing fast, a chance to re-sharpen my skills.  It’s been a real challenge because every single second the field whether it’s training or playing (the game) we work really hard as a team. But I’ll tell you, it’s a great feeling being wanted again.

Q: Do you harbor any negative feeling about what occurred during the last World Cup?
A: It bothers me that we and the federation allowed what occurred.  We allowed a guy to come in with no experience and upset the team so much, to set soccer back like he did.  It was a travesty. We’re trying to, and we’ve done a great job of erasing World Cup 1998 already. It’s over…that’s in the past. We’ve progressed and gone forward.  Bruce Arena has done a great job with us and as a result we’ve played well.
Q: It appears that MLS soccer has  somewhat declined in interest.  Do you believe this is the case and if so why?
A: No, no, no I don’t think the MLS is declining in interest.  You guys (the press) are seeing  a decline first-hand here at Giant Stadium, but our fan base has been at an average of 17,000 this year which has been only a drop of about 5 or 6 hundred but we’ve got to play well.  The product is good on the field.  We talked about it earlier, Don Garber (above right w/ Stuart Subatnick) has come in as the new commissioner and one of the things he said he has is do is to start marketing the teams better and that’s exactly right.  He’s got the right idea!  Marketing the American players that are based here, and making sure that the people know who they are through increased television coverage. Another thing is that we are out there working our tails to get out, and appear before the public as much as we can but what we need is a players union. From day one that should have been established. 

Q: What do you believe will be the impact Women’s World Cup and women’s soccer  in general will have on the American public?
A: I think that the Women’s World Cup has heightened the awareness of soccer again in this country.  It’s great that the women’s team won the World Cup but whether our women or men win everyone benefits from our win in this sport.  The Women’s World Cup has raised the level of awareness of the sport in general . You know media people who keep comparing the women with the men’s team but you really cannot  compare the two because the games are on a different level.

Q: Is there any one player in the World Cup that made the most impression on you?  
A: We’ll ,they were all great players but for me Kristine Lilly really stood out.  She dedicated herself to the game day in and day out, and played really well every single game. She is a tremendous athlete. Obviously Mia Hamm is a very dedicated and talented player as well.

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