Harry Shipp’s trade from his hometown Chicago Fire to the Montreal Impact was, understandably, very emotional for the 24-year-old former Notre Dame star.
The Lake Forest, Ill., native is a former Chicago Fire Juniors North youth product, joined the club’s academy in 2009, and signed a Homegrown Player contract ahead of the 2014 season before becoming a first-team mainstay.
Bottom line: a big part of Shipp’s life has been associated with the Fire.
He first acknowledged the emotional nature of the trade when the news emerged over the weekend in a heartfelt letter to fans. New Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic, for his part, said it was a tough call to make.
“Honestly it was just shocking and surprising,” Shipp said, going into further detail about his reaction to the trade on Tuesday’s episode of MLSsoccer.com’s ExtraTime Radio, noting he had just sat down to dinner with his girlfriend Saturday night after returning to Chicago with the club from its preseason camp in Florida when he heard the news from his agent. “I thought I was rejuvenated and kind of excited for the change there and liked where things were headed and thought I would leave the camp with the new coaching staff, bunch of new players in Chicago, but obviously they didn’t value me as highly as I thought they did. And I’m happy to be here where I’m wanted because that’s where I want to be, you know.”
Shipp has been one of the few bright spots at Toyota Park the last two seasons as one of the league’s best young talents on one of the worst teams in MLS in that span. He led the team with eight assists last year and also scored three goals. He recorded seven goals and six assists in his rookie season.
“I thought they were starting to do something in Chicago where they wanted to create kind of a consistency and a loyalty to the city and guys that wanted to be there long term, and I thought I fit well into that whole idea,” Shipp said. “But, like I said, I’m someone who kind of jumps in all in. I was all in in Chicago, and I was passionate about trying to help the city and the club. And now that I’m in Montreal I’m all in here and trying to help the city and the club as much as I did in Chicago.”
Shipp predictably has developed a comprehensive connection to the city as a homegrown professional athlete. He said the outpouring of support has been overwhelming.
“I had about 800 text messages that I’ve been answering and trying to get back to people still today; like I said I have friends from literally every stage of life in Chicago,” Shipp said. “… That kind of was the hardest part for me was getting notes from kids that had followed me the last couple years, honestly.”
Fire fans were understandably incensed at the trade. That includes his parents.
“The first thing my mom did is call the Fire and say, ‘Hey I’m Harry Shipp’s mom, give me my refund for my season tickets please,’” Shipp said. “… She had Fire stickers on the windshield of her car, and she was peeling those off yesterday and showing me pictures. But they’re looking forward to coming up to Montreal and catching some games up there, for sure.”
Shipp had plenty more to say in the expansive interview that can be heard above.