Welcome to Fire20, our weekly series celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club by making deep dives into the team’s history. This week we look back at Harry Shipp’s spectacular hat-trick against NYRB in 2014.
There was not a whole lot that went right for the Fire in 2014. They posted an MLS regular season record of 6-10-18 (yes the historic drawing had begun), accumulating just 36 points, leaving them in 9th place in the Eastern Conference, well out of the playoffs.
Chicago reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup, but were bounced in humiliating fashion 6-0 by Seattle, and their top goal scorer found the back of the net only nine times across all competitions.
Basically, the Fire were bad. Really bad.
However, there was one bright spot in the 2014 season. It came in the form of a small, scrappy, 5’ 9” outside midfielder who signed with the Fire as a Homegrown Player from Notre Dame. It was Harry Shipp, the wide-eyed rookie we all came to know and love as “Holy Shipp.”
In 2014, Shipp appeared in 34 games across all competitions, scoring 7 goals and providing 7 assists. All in all, a decent season for a rookie on an MLS squad. One performance in particular will always stand out to him (most likely) and Fire fans (most definitely).
On May, 11 of that season, the Fire found themselves in Harrison, New Jersey to square-off against the Red Bulls. It was a rollercoaster of a match, eventually ending 5-4 in favor of the Men in Red on the back of a Shipp hat-trick.
Shipp got it going early (sort of), netting in just the fourth minute of the game to put the Fire up 1-0. Here’s how iconic voice of the Fire Dan Kelly describes it: “the [first] goal, nowadays, would have been offside, because Magee was interfering with the goalie. They actually use this goal as an example, the referees, at the clinic the next year with us.”
Shipp chipped the ball into the box, clearly intended for an offside Magee, who then dummied the ball leaving Red Bull goalkeeper Luis Robles stone-footed. Shipp didn't care, though, as he had just scored a goal in one of the most hostile away grounds in the league.
Things got even better for Shipp. Patrick Nyarko picked him out with a square ball at the top of the box, from which he took one touch, and then finished neatly to the back post in the 53rd minute. The Fire were up 3-2, and were showing resilience that was hard to come by in 2014.
Finally, in the 58th minute, Holy Shipp picked the ball off of a Red Bull defender and dribbled into the box to finish past a helpless Robles. He had done it. He had scored a hat trick as a rookie, put the Fire up 4-2 against an Eastern Conference rival and secured Chicago three points they were desperate for. End of story, right? Wrong.
In the 64th minute, a mis-hit Nyarko cross found its way into the top corner of the goal. And then things got dicey. In the 67th minute, Bradley Wright-Phillips, you know, that guy, got a goal back for New York. The Red Bulls had energy, but still trailed 5-3. Then, 10 minutes later, Henry was fouled in the box, and BWP neatly tucked it away from the penalty spot.
Even though things got dicey for the Fire, Wright-Phillips scoring a hat trick made this game just a little more sweet for Shipp. Not only had he scored his first career hat trick, he had out-dueled that year’s Golden Boot winner.
The Fire would hold on for the win— a nine goal thriller. A late save from Sean Johnson sealed the Fire’s victory, and Chicago fans finally had something to cheer about.
However, all good things must come to an end. Shipp, the Fire’s hometown hero, was dealt to Montreal Impact on Feb. 13, 2016, a heartbreaking moment for both him and the fans. Shipp really did love the club, the fans and the city. Upon learning of his trade, the young midfielder posted the following message to his Twitter account:
Dear, Chicago. Took some time to compose myself and write down my thoughts in the attached notes! pic.twitter.com/kH0gG67Bhm— Harry Shipp (@championShipp11) February 13, 2016
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to put in words,” Shipp wrote. “When I was told out of the blue that I would no longer be a member of the Fire, I immediately broke down and started crying. This club and city have meant everything to me.”
The passion he had was unbelievable— always remaining loyal to the team, even through its struggles. In one season with the Impact, Shipp scored 3 goals and recorded 2 assists across 30 appearances. On March 11, 2017, he was traded again, this time to MLS Cup Champions Seattle Sounders. So far, Shipp has appeared in just two matches, scoring a single goal. A finish which came as a follow up after a shot from former Fire wingback Joevin Jones was deflected.
Here’s hoping that one day Holy Shipp will be able to make it back to port on the shores of Lake Michigan and once again be a member of the Men in Red.