Tips & Trik

Like father, like son: 7 times Major League Soccer became a family affair

The latest MLS legacy is ready to take the field for D.C. United. Here is the history of players whose fathers also played in the league.

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ian Harkes joins D.C. United as soccer royalty, of sorts.

The Hermann Award-winning midfielder, signed Monday as a Homegrown player following his senior season at Wake Forest University, is the son of D.C. legend John Harkes, a former U.S. men’s national team captain who played in England and in two World Cups.

He's nowhere near the first soccer scion to arrive in Major League Soccer. That's been going on for ages. Seven players since MLS debuted, four of them currently in the league, are sons of former MLS stars, and even more players' dads have played in the original North American Soccer League, Europe, Mexico, South America, Africa, or elsewhere.

There are at least a dozen current players with fathers who had a kick back in the day. New England midfielder Scott Caldwell's and Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert's fathers played in the old NASL, and so did D.C. United winger Nick DeLeon's dad, Leroy, who also saw action with Trinidad and Tobago's national team.

Colorado midfielder Dillon Powers' father, Mike, was a fan favorite for 15 years with the Dallas Sidekicks in the indoor game. The father of Portland midfielder Darlington Nagbe, in camp this month with the U.S. national team, saw time with clubs in Africa and Europe. Columbus playmaker Federico Higuain's dad played in Argentina and France, New England winger Diego Fagundez's dad played in Uruguay, Houston forward Oscar Boniek Garcia's dad was a player in Honduras, and Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez's dad was well-traveled in the Mexican game.

Toronto FC defender Eriq Zavaleta's dad, Carlos, was a pro in El Salvador. Reds coach Greg Vanney, a former MLS star who also played in France and for the national team, is Zavaleta's uncle.

Then there's Marvell Wynne, whose father, also Marvell, spent 18 years in Major League Baseball and another season in Japan. And Houston forward Nate Jaqua's dad spent a few years in the NFL.

Here are seven MLS players whose fathers, too, once called MLS home.


Teal (pictured, above) became the first son of an MLS alum to make it to the league when he signed a Generation adidas deal and was taken by Sporting Kansas City with the No. 4 pick in the 2010 SuperDraft. Alex, a Guyana-born Canadian national-teamer who spent much of his career in Portugal with Maritimo, ended his career with two seasons in Kansas City, finishing with the Wizards' MLS Cup title in 2000. Teal, a forward like his father, has followed four seasons in K.C. with three in New England. He’s put up 29 goals and 20 assists in 177 regular-season matches.

NEXT: In the footsteps of a former MVP