Plays College Soccer
As a teenager, Harkes played club soccer for Thistle in Kearny, a soccer power. He stood out as a creative midfielder with both offensive and defensive skills. Just as Harkes was graduating from Kearney High School, the North American Soccer League folded, and Harkes had to reconsider his plans. He decided to play college soccer at the University of Virginia, coached by Bruce Arena.
Though he did not finish his degree at Virginia, Harkes's play garnered him notice and improved his skills. In 1987, he made the U.S. national team for the first time, and appeared in international games. In 1988, Harkes played for the U.S. team at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Harkes had his first World Cup play in 1990.