OTF Roundtable: Do the Chicago Fire Deserve Harry Shipp?
Near the end of the Fire’s third loss in a row last Saturday, Alexi Lalas doubled-down on his flattery of second year stand-out Harry Shipp by suggesting that he was the Fire’s only “real” DP, and further stating that Harry may be “Too Good” to play for Chicago…
So, OTF asks: Is Lalas being dramatic (as per usual), or does he have a point?
Lalas’s rhetoric speaks volumes about the state of the Fire. I reckon that in eighteen years of competition, no broadcaster has ever uttered such words about a Chicago player. I’d like someone to prove me wrong.
At the same time, Alexi’s quip brings to light that, so far, Harry Shipp is improving his game and showing his professional development as this young season begins. He looks fit and confident. Combine the latter traits with talent and vision and we see once again why Shipp should be playing in the hole as a number 10 — something that I (and many others) clamored for from day one, when we knew he’d put on the Fire kit.
So this brings us back to the comment in question. Simply put, Frank Yallop is failing fast. The tinkering needs to end. His indecisiveness needs to end. The excuses need to end. To borrow a phrase from my buddy Rob Thompson: Frank Yallop is a wet blanket. Put another way, his freshness date as a MLS coach has expired.
Right now, I’d guarantee better overall results if Brian Bliss coached Chicago Fire. Hey #HauptmanOut (I know you’re reading this), why not show some balls and switch them, sending Yallop to the desk and Bliss to the pitch?
Shipp is too good for the Fire. Sean Johnson (despite his post-injury form) is too good for the Fire. Hell, at this point, the fans are too good for the Fire. Sure, Lalas can lean on the side of the dramatic and tends to spew bullshit, but he nailed this one. The ever-present question remains though: How do you fix the Fire?
The Fire have seen one knockout round match in five years, so obviously it’s time to clean house. They should sack the manager and bring in someone who has won some silverware. Oh, what do you mean they already have? In that case, they should cut the useless “DPs” filling the roster and bring in fresh blood to revitalize the team. Did that too, eh? Well, maybe the players will feel more inspired if Toyota Park fills up, so how about offering $2 beer or $2 hot dogs depending on the day? Well, shit. I guess I’m out of ideas too.
Underperforming this many years under multiple managers with multiple drastically different rosters shows signs of a deeper issue. The dismayed look on players’ faces proves that they don’t think they can win.
The problem with the Fire appears so deep-rooted that Andell should just sell the team back to the league, raze Toyota Park, and pay back Bridgeview with the insurance money. Let all of the players that are worth a damn get dispersed to other teams where they can have a fresh start and just “Old Yeller/Chivas” the Fire.
As a Chicago Bears and White Sox fan I’ve always enjoyed when my teams are on a national broadcast, because you get to hear what an outsider thinks about them. Hint: It’s almost always disappointing. I love local announcers and local opinions, but nothing hits harder than when an expert views your team as an outsider and rattles your rah-rah mentality. I will now add Lalas to this esteemed group of boat-rockers that include Troy Aikmen and Joe Buck.
Sometimes you need hyperbole to spur conversation, and for that, Alexi, I thank you. Soccer is a team game, and our brightest star cannot perform alone. In fact, it’s feasible that his development (and a long-awaited US Mens National Team call-up) may be hampered by his misuse, or at least misplacement in the Fire starting XI.
In my recollection, the San Jose match last weekend was the first time Shipp was positioned to play centrally from the beginning of the match, and his quality showed through. Why has it taken this long to play him as a centrally-attacking mid? Perhaps the bigger question is HOW, with the money spent for three DP’s in this offseason, is a guy rescued from the MLS Superdraft through a contested Homegrown Claim hands-down the team’s best player?
The assertion that Chicago does not “deserve” him is silly, but the suggestion that Shipp deserves better opportunities to be the best player he can be remains absolutely true.