The Kids are Alright: Harry Shipp, Benji Joya power Chicago Fire past D.C. United in 2-0 preseason win

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Saturday night’s 2-0 preseason win over D.C. United was supposed to be Frank Yallop’s initial opportunity to see his first choice players in a competitive setting.

While a first team that featured the likes of Jeff Larentowicz, Patrick Nyarko, Chris Rolfe and Bakary Soumare showed well in their 45 minutes, the story of the night actually centered around the club’s current youth crop.

Names like Harry Shipp, Benji Joya, Victor Pineda and 19-year-old trialist Grant Ward were the talk of the night instead.

“Anytime your young players can get a chance to play and express themselves in a game like this it’s great,” said Fire head coach Frank Yallop. “It’s about competition for places and I’m not afraid to play a young player at all.”

Shipp tallied a goal just minutes after entering the game at halftime and also helped setup Ward’s icing goal in the 80th minute but it was the rest of his performance that stuck out to Yallop.

 “Harry plays 45 minutes, he has a goal and assist but not only that, he controlled the tempo of the game in the second half.”

Playing in a 4-1-4-1 formation, four of the five Fire midfielders that entered at halftime were age 22 and under with 32-year-old Logan Pause playing behind them in the holding role. According to Shipp the 12th year club veteran was a huge asset to the young midfield.

“I think coming into the game it was about getting our shape defensively and organizing the midfield,” he said. “I think Logan did a great job keeping me and Benji organized and once we got the ball it was easy to go forward and create chances. I think all around it was a pretty good effort in the second half.”

Joya, who only logged two training sessions with the team after joining on loan from Mexican side Santos Laguna on Wednesday, summed up the impressive display from the team’s young midfield Saturday night.

“When you’re on the bench all you want to do is come in and prove to the coach you’re ready to start, he said. “Young players are hungry – we’re always looking to get better and do well to get in the starting 11.”

Still, Shipp made sure the Fire’s young guns didn’t get too far ahead of themselves with their preseason performance but admitted the shot of confidence he and his second half teammates received from their performance.

“It’s only a preseason game and there are a lot of steps until the regular season but I think tonight just gives confidence going to practice and wanting to get better for the next game, knowing that you’re comfortable enough to be on the field playing with these guys. I think we just want to play a very technical style with the young guys and that fits great with what I want to do. I think it worked out pretty well tonight.”