BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. Sunday’s draw at Portland was somewhat historic for being the first point the Chicago Fire have taken in Cascadia since 2009.
A bigger piece of club history occurred on the afternoon however as rookie midfielder Harry Shipp became the first Homegrown player in Fire history to make a competitive appearance for the club.
“It’s pretty special,” Shipp told Chicago-Fire.com "They’ve done a great job developing the Academy and I think ever since I started playing for the Fire back in high school I’ve been looking forward to playing for the first team.”
The prospect of your first professional start is something daunting especially in the raucous environment that is Portland’s Providence Park but the 22-year-old winger played admirably in defense and was even given the responsibility on most of the team’s dead ball situations.
After seeing fellow Fire newbie Benji Joya score in his club debut the week before, Shipp himself nearly had a dream debut when his stoppage time free kick found Bakary Soumare at the back post only to have Timbers ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts deny the chance with an impressive save.
“Taking dead balls is one of my strong suits, whether it’s free kicks or corners, I think it’s a weapon at this level to be able to score on that. You see just how vital they can be in away matches -- we almost stole three points in stoppage time with Baky’s header.
“It’s an opportunity every time we’re within 40-50 yards to get something more. We have some big guys in back that can get their head on balls, we have to find those guys more often.”
With winger Dilly Duka missing Sunday’s match with an injury and Patrick Nyarko suspended after picking up a red card, Shipp, who earned high praise from head coach Frank Yallop post-game, seems likely to make his home debut on Sunday vs. New York.
Whatever role he’s asked to play, he’s hoping to get a bit more involved in the attack vs. Red Bull.
“Frank seemed very positive about how I did. I think all in all I just tried to focus on doing the little things that fans wouldn’t notice: just being in good defensive spots, giving cover to our full backs and playing simple going forward.
“Portland wasn’t going to be the best game in my career in terms of creating plays offensively but I think for a first start in such a tough environment it was pretty good overall.”