BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – It was a game of two halves for the Chicago Fire’s Harry Shipp, who followed a relatively subdued first half with a second-half goal and assist to propel Brian Bliss’ men to a surprise 3-1 victory over the New England Revolution

The mercurial attacker was deployed in his preferred central position, playing behind lead striker Gilberto in a more involved role than his usual cameos on either wing. 

His limited involvement in the first half offered little insight to the impact he would make in the second half, with his 11 credited touches in the opening 45 doing nothing to further his claims for a regular central starting role. 

However, following some “prodding” from Bliss at halftime, Shipp produced a more focused, energetic and productive second half. He set up the Fire's first goal for David Accam and then showed strength, drive and composure to hold off Andrew Farrell and finish calmly under advancing goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth for the game-winner 

“Harry’s got those tools, he can make plays,” Bliss said of Shipp, who has a team-leading eight assists, as well as three goals in his sophomore year in MLS. “I don’t think in the first half he was finding the game enough and getting us going to help us connect some passes to relieve a bit of the pressure, especially in the first 15 minutes. But I think he stuck with it, we prodded him on at halftime to get more involved and take care of the ball.

"I think he did that, he connected some passes for us and he was keen enough to chase down Farrell and stick with the play. As Harry can, he’s cool, calm and he put it away.” 

That Shipp had as many touches in 27 second-half minutes before being replaced by Patrick Doody illustrates how much more effective he was after the break, and with a 93.3 percent pass completion rate and three chances created, Shipp was duly given the Man of the Match award.   

However, despite admitting to being satisfied with his return, Shipp insisted the players’ main focus coming into the game was to give the team’s long-suffering fans something to be proud of.

“It’s all that matters really, it’s been a tough few months for this club and this team and I think the change a couple of weeks ago brought some life,” Shipp said of getting the team’s first win since the departure of Frank Yallop. “I think there’s been a different energy in practice, a different focus and I think you saw an overall pretty good performance against a really good team.

“All in all it’s not going to change how we feel about our season altogether because it hasn’t been a good year, but I think we wanted to come and give something for the fans to be proud of for one night and I think we were able to do that."

With just two games remaining, the 23-year-old Lake Forest, Illinois native is already looking ahead to next season, and believes performances like 1040712101" tabindex="0">Saturday's will help him and the team next year.

“It was good to be playing again,” Shipp, who had seen just seven minutes of action in Bliss’ first two games, admitted. “I’ve been happy with how I’ve been playing in practice, I have a new-found focus and I’m just trying to find something to build on for next year. I think I was able to do that 1040712102" tabindex="0">tonight.

"I feel comfortable in the center and with Gilberto up top he’s a smart player, he makes smart runs, so I think all-in-all it was pretty good for me.”