Imagine, for a moment, if the Seattle Sounders suddenly saw no future with emerging homegrown star Jordan Morris.
And think of what Morris’ reaction would be if the club traded him out of the country after this season.
That, essentially, is what happened to Harry Shipp in 2016.
Shipp is a Chicago guy. On those great MLS Cup-contending Fire clubs of the late 1990s he watched at Soldier Field growing up, Shipp idolized midfielder Piotr Nowak. He also played collegiately down the road at Notre Dame where he led the Fighting Irish to an NCAA Division I crown.
And when the Fire made Shipp its third homegrown player signee in franchise history in 2014, he rewarded them with a fantastic first season in the midfield — seven goals and eight assists in 29 starts in becoming a finalist for MLS rookie of the year.
But over the course of a rocky 10 months, the 25-year-old Shipp was a member of three MLS teams — Chicago, Montreal and now the Sounders, who traded for him last December.
There is still a part of the undersized Shipp that is shellshocked by all the movement, even though he has enjoyed his brief few months with the reigning MLS Cup champions.
“I really didn’t think I’d be playing for three teams in one calendar year, to be honest,” Shipp said. “It is what it is. I’ve tried to make the most of it, and I am happy that I am here. I feel more comfortable than I did last year, both off the field and on the field.
“Hopefully it sets up for a better year.”
The first deal to Montreal for allocation money hit Shipp like a ton of bricks, even though he could see it coming. Before the start of last season, the Fire were in a major roster overhaul under new general manager Nelson Rodriguez and coach Veljko Paunovic.
Shipp was out to Valentine’s Day dinner with his fiancee, Maria Kosse, a fellow Notre Dame alum. That’s when he got the call from Rodriguez telling him he had been traded to the Impact.
The worse news? He had to be at preseason camp the next day.
“It was the first time in my life when something did not go my way,” Shipp said. “It took me way longer than I wanted to get over it.”
And Shipp would go by himself, since Kosse was not allowed to live in Montreal without a work visa.
It became a lonely place, Shipp said.
“Where I lived was French-speaking, so I didn’t know anyone besides the team guys,” Shipp said. “I hung out with the same people, and did not have an escape from soccer. That is the thing that wore on me.”
What did he do?
“A lot of Netflix,” he said.
Subsequently, Shipp’s production dipped as well. He tallied a career-low two goals in 20 starts.
“I had a drop in confidence, and I’ve always been a super confident and positive guy,” Shipp said.
The trade to Seattle has allowed Shipp to press the reset button. Oddly enough, he made his first start for the Sounders at Montreal in the second match of the season – a 2-2 tie.
And in the club’s home opener Sunday, he scored his first Sounders goal in a 3-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls.
“We knew his tendencies and his personality,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said. “But the other reason we signed him was that he scored two goals against us (in 2014).”
Just as important, Kosse has joined him in Seattle, and has already found a job as an information technology consultant. The two have set a wedding date next December.
“The off-the-field stuff allows you to focus on soccer,” Shipp said. “We are looking forward to settling into life.”