The most surprising trade during the 2016 MLS pre-season saw Harry Shipp, a young MLS regular, join the Montreal Impact from the Chicago Fire. The Chicago-native was shocked , like most of us, to be traded by the Fire, the only club he knew.
The Impact's aggressiveness to get Shipp can be explained by the club's need for an offensive midfielder that can be the link between the central midfielders and the offensive trio up front. After playing the full 90 minutes against the Vancouver Whitecaps and the New York Red Bulls, Shipp was subbed off in the Impact's last 3 games.
Having not scored yet but with 2 assists, Shipp has more than enough time to match and surpass his young career average of 5 goals and 8 assists. His style and positioning are a fit with the club, especially with Ignacio Piatti and Lucas Ontivero cutting from the wings into the middle. With a good chemistry with Dominic Oduro in pre-season, expectations are set high for #6 ranked player on the 2015 MLS 24 under 24 list.
His emotional departure from Chicago, that included a heartfelt goodbye letter, was obviously hard on him but with a flawless record at home with the Bleu-Blanc-Noir, the process of integrating him can only get easier. But as Mauro Biello has made sure that his squad's depth is "deep" with numbers and quality, there should be no surprise to see Shipp takes his turn to be on the bench but not as punishment.
With Johan Venegas, a regular with the Costa Rican national team, coming on off the bench all season and Didier Drogba's imminent start in MLS (on grass turf) in Chicago, the staff has a plethora of choices to surround Ignacio Piatti., the key to Impact's offense.
Though with Drogba coming back, the prospect of seeing Shipp feed the ball to one of the world's best strikers of his generation is quite exciting. And that what seems to be Shipp's strength. He will do the defensive work, lie deep in the midfield if need be and sacrifice himself for the team.
But at the end, Shipp , whether he is on the scoresheet or not, needs to have an impact (pun intended) as he was definitely brought in to bring to fruition Mauro Biello's vision and plan for a new-look Impact, at least in its attitude.