Harry Shipp’s first Major League Soccer season included a lot of highlights and memorable moments, helping him to become a key part of the Fire’s future.
It just won’t end with a Rookie of the Year award.
FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele on Monday was named MLS Rookie of the Year, beating out fellow finalists Shipp and DC United defender Steve Birnbaum. Akindele, 22, appeared in 26 games and scored seven goals along with three assists.
Akindele earned 29.12 percent of club votes, 26.1 percent of media votes, and 31.18 percent of player votes for a weighted total of 86.40. Shipp’s weighted total was 73.02 after finishing second in two categories and third in media voting behind Akindele and Birnbaum.
Despite playing in 33 games with seven goals and six assists, the Homegrown Shipp finished second in the voting conducted near the end of the regular season. He had a chance to be the Fire’s second rookie of the year in three seasons, joining defender Austin Berry in 2012.
Shipp, a Lake Forest native who led Notre Dame to the 2013 College Cup title, started strong for the Fire. After not playing in their season opener, Shipp was inserted into the Fire’s starting lineup and got his first assist in his second game, a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls.
It was against New York on May 10 when Shipp emerged as a serious rookie of the year candidate. He scored three goals and added an assist in the Fire’s dramatic 5-4 win over the Red Bulls, their first victory of the season.
The 23-year-old then went four games without scoring but broke through for two against Seattle Sounders FC on June 7. In the Fire’s first game back after the World Cup break on July 2, Shipp scored his sixth against Toronto FC and looked to be the clear front-runner for top rookie honors.
Unfortunately for Shipp, the second half of his season wasn’t nearly as prolific and the Fire drifted well away from contention, two factors which undoubtedly hurt his rookie of the year chances.
The goal against Toronto was his last until Oct. 18 as he couldn’t get over the so-called rookie wall. He didn’t start in four of the Fire’s last 10 games and when he did play he struggled to replicate his earlier performances.
Shipp also was a finalist for the Individual Fair Play Award but finished behind Columbus Crew SC defender Michael Parkhurst.