Barring late complications, the former Gonzaga College High School and Wake Forest midfielder will sign a multiyear contract this week.
Before deciding whether to accept the offer, Harkes wanted to explore options with second-flight clubs in England. His father, John, a former U.S. national team captain, played six years with English clubs before starring for United. A British passport holder, Ian would have had an easier time gaining a work permit than most other Americans.
He is scheduled to return to the Washington area Monday.
Neither United officials nor Harkes’s agent, Lyle Yorks, wanted to comment.
D.C. Coach Ben Olsen said Friday at the MLS draft in Los Angeles that the sides were in negotiations. United had lined up other options in case the Fairfax resident turned down the offer.
As a former member of United’s youth academy, Harkes was exempt from the draft and eligible for a D.C. homegrown contract; were he not exempt, he would have been a top-three selection. Instead, he could become United’s ninth homegrown signing since 2009, joining, among others, current D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid (DeMatha) and former midfielder Andy Najar (Edison).
United would seek to groom Harkes, 21, as one of the young centerpieces ahead of the team’s relaunch of sorts when the Buzzard Point stadium project opens sometime in 2018. He is a two-way central midfielder who, in the current formation, would vie for playing time between defensive midfielder Marcelo Sarvas and playmaker Luciano Acosta. Jared Jeffrey, Rob Vincent and Julian Buescher are the other central options.
Harkes started 82 matches in his Wake Forest career and led the Demon Deacons to the College Cup championship game last month. He scored a golden goal in the semifinals against Denver, his career-high fifth of the season. Wake lost to Stanford on penalty kicks in the final.
Harkes was named ACC midfielder of the year, ACC tournament MVP, the most outstanding offensive player in the NCAA tournament and a first-team all-American.
On Jan. 6, he received the Hermann Trophy, awarded to college soccer’s best male and female players. John Harkes won a national player of the year award in 1987 after excelling at the University of Virginia. Ian’s mother, Cindi, also starred at Virginia.
United is slated to open training camp next Monday in Washington before moving operations to Florida.