Harry Shipp sailing along for struggling Fire

Written By BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media Posted: 07/06/2014, 02:31am

Midfielder Harry Shipp should be able to talk a little bit about some personal honors and his burgeoning candidacy for Major League Soccer’s rookie of the year award. He has six goals and four assists, and Fire fans can hope for something special every time he gets control of the ball.

But when your team is 2-4-9 and needed a point in its last game just to get out of last place in its conference, individual achievements tend to get lost in the shuffle or disregarded. Discussing them might seem out of place, especially for a 22-year-old still trying to earn his way in the league.

‘‘It’s not even on my mind,’’ Shipp said after scoring the Fire’s goal in their 1-1 tie Wednesday against Toronto FC at Toyota Park. ‘‘When you’re on a team like this with two wins all year, you’re focusing every day on trying to go in and get a win and to learn how to get better. I’d rather not score a goal all year and be on a winning team than score however many goals I score and be on a losing team.

‘‘So rookie of the year is not really on my mind.’’

Unfortunately for the Fire, who visit reigning MLS champion Sporting Kansas City (7-5-4) on Sunday, Shipp’s strong rookie season might be their lone highlight in 2014 unless they can figure out how to get some victories. The Fire are winless in their last five MLS games.

Their 1-1 draw with Toronto FC was a good chance to snap that streak. The Fire played with a man advantage for 61 minutes and were facing a team without Michael Bradley and Julio Cesar because of their World Cup obligations.

Still, they couldn’t take advantage.

‘‘It’s a weird situation; it’s frustrating,’’ coach Frank Yallop said Wednesday. ‘‘We can’t get over the finish line with a win. The guys are frustrated in there. We are as a staff and me as a head coach.’’

Things won’t get any easier against Sporting KC. Quincy Amarikwa is suspended for an accumulation of yellow cards, and Juan Luis Anangono was loaned Thursday to a team in Ecuador. That leaves Mike Magee and newly signed Matthew Fondy as the only natural forwards on the roster.

That also will put more responsibility on Shipp. But even with his effort Wednesday, the Fire weren’t able to get the victory they needed.

‘‘It didn’t happen, so we have to look toward Kansas City on Sunday,’’ Shipp said.

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