Harry Shipp Hopes to Build on His Early MLS Success
The 22-year-old Illinois native enjoyed a fantastic finish to his collegiate career, and is off to a great start in MLS. ASN's Brian Sciaretta spoke to Harry Shipp about his plans going forward.
July 08, 2014
Unlike his close friend and former Notre Dame teammate Dillon Powers, Shipp was never viewed as a top prospect as a youth player. Powers was the Gatorade Player of the Year in high school and part of multiple U.S. U-20 national teams. Shipp, on the other hand, was never selected to play for a U.S. youth national team. Never one of the most athletic kids in his age group, Shipp compensated for his shortcomings by becoming one of the smartest American players around. “I’m five-foot-nine and weight less than 150 pounds, and not fast,” Shipp said bluntly. “I wasn’t blessed with athletic ability and natural ability. For me it’s just working hard and developing technical skills. When I was younger, I was always the smallest kid. I was five foot in high school and probably weighed 100 pounds. It was one of those things where I was never picked for youth national teams because I just didn’t have the physical abilities that other kids had.” “Right now it’s paying off because I was really forced to think through games and become a student of the game. It’s all those things that maybe casual fans don’t notice but they’re essential to moving up to the next level. That’s why, partially the reason, my jump to the pros has been successful so far. There are things you can do on the field that make coaches and players trust you.” Shipp is very close with his younger brother, Michael Shipp, who is currently on the Notre Dame team. Michael is not surprised by his brother’s success and echoes the fact that it has been his intelligence and the way he has learned to read the game that are now separating him from other young players. “I think that he has always been overlooked because he’s not the typical prototype soccer player,” Michael Shipp assessed. “He’s not the most athletic. He’s not the fastest. But he’s incredibly smart on the field. His soccer IQ is really unmatched from people I’ve played with or people in college soccer. He’s always working hard to get better technically.” Shipp’s priority for the rest of this season is to help lift a struggling club which failed to make the playoffs last year and has won just two games out of 16 this season. Still, the club is not out of the playoff picture due to its 10 draws and trails New York by just four points for the final playoff spot in the East. The Chicago Fire mean a great deal to Shipp, who grew up nearby Lake Forest, Ill., and regularly attended games growing up. He recalls how members of the Fire organization were involved in coaching his youth teams and that “to have an opportunity to sign as a homegrown with the Fire kind of brings that full-circle. It gives something for other young kids to aspire to and hopefully I can be that path that they want to follow.” The fact that he was never selected to represent the United States at the youth level is something that has been both disappointing and a source of motivation for Shipp. “It’s something that still drives me today,” Shipp said of never representing the U.S. “It’s why I’m humble but still have a chip on my shoulder. I’ve kind of not been in the spotlight until this year. But even now, I play like the same kid who was never getting picked for anything. I like that. It’s what drives me to keep learning and getting better and focusing on the little things that made me successful in the first place.” Shipp still has not played a full season as a professional so it is impossible to know exactly what his ceiling is at the moment. Those who know him best, however, like his chances for continued success. “I think he’s hungry to prove himself,” Michael Shipp said. “I feel like his goal down the road is to prove himself and represent the United States. That’s obviously a great honor and I think he can potentially do that in the future. I believe that if he continues to work hard, there’s really no limit as to what can happen.” Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter and share your thoughts on his thoughts below.
If only we had some offensive creativity for the first 105 minutes....it's all about comfort on the ball— Harry Shipp (@championShipp11) July 1, 2014