The Harry Shipp trade was once again a topic of discussion during Veljko Paunovic’s weekly press conference call. The Fire’s head coach reiterated that the reasoning for the move was not based on a lack of ability on the player’s part, but more about fitting into the system he is looking to implement.
Here’s more on the call:
On the decision to make the Shipp trade
“At the point when we had the situation with Harry, where we had to decide because there was a team interested in him. At that point, we couldn’t guarantee for Harry that he was going to have the role that everybody and he expected. Then we had to decide and make the best possible decision. Harry will have better possibilities, or better opportunities to play soccer which is something that he always wants. I think that’s basically the main situation. I said before, and I am going to repeat that thousands of times, he’s a fantastic kid. He handled it very, very difficult for him and I can tell (it was difficult) for us too. He moved forward and we’re going to root for him. We appreciate everything that he did for Chicago in the last years. Again, in that situation where we had to decide, I think we did the best possible decision for all parties.”
On Shipp fitting the new style
“I think that’s the first reason. The technical reason is why we decided to do that. The style of play and for what we are looking for further in that position. It’s something that we decided was very important. The first thing is a technical decision, but we are always looking for the best possible solution. If there weren’t a team interested in him, it would be different.”
On replacing Shipp
“We are not going to hurry to do anything at this point. We appreciate everything that Harry did with the club and we understand perfectly the situation. He is a really great, great kid and after our talk on Saturday, Nelson and I really appreciated him higher as a person. He is a really wonderful kid but we’re not in a hurry to replace that spot. We have a situation where we created a spot where the guys we have on the roster right now have to look to fulfill that spot, and fulfill the place in the team as a favorite player on the field for our fans. We think that we created a very interesting dynamic in the roster where the guys that we have right now have to fight for that spot.”
“We are working on our roster. Once we make decisions, we will be very happy to explain everything that we are doing, why are we doing, but right now we don’t have anything to share publicly.”
“We have guys on the roster. They have an opportunity now to show up and prove themselves because there is an open spot. Right now, with the guys we have on the roster, if they will take the opportunity and win the spot. Everybody has to earn it here. Not just for that position, but for every position on the team.”
On filling the leadership void
“Right now we have veteran guys like Razvan (Cocis), like Eric Gehrig. People who have experience in the league and people who have played and understand very well the values of Chicago Fire and our team. Also with Accam, with Kennedy, those guys are very important for our locker room. We’re looking further to see if the new guys who came in like Joao Meira, like Kappelhof who just came yesterday, can bring us another style of leadership with their experience and obviously a style of playing soccer in Europe.”
“With Razvan, and with Sean (Johnson), they’re experienced guys. What we are looking for from them is that we want them to be the example. We want them to represent the best values of our team, and the team we are building. We still have to improve. We need to see that on and off the field. We want to be a team who first do a job, and then talk. We want to see that on and off the field in terms of actions.”
On Gehrig’s recovery
“He is in the process of recovering still. We have a very special treatment for him, where we have to be very aware of his surgery and his current situation. Being out for more than five months is a very delicate situation. He works very hard. He is very enthusiastic. He helps teammates, and staff in order to build our team spirit. He is a really special and great guy. What are doing on our behalf, is to help him not to exceed his peak expectations of coming back as soon as possible, which sometimes can lead to anxiety and some things that we don’t want to happen to get right being hurt or sore. We are being very careful with his process. He’s been great.”
On Arturo Alvarez’s trial
“He’s doing very good. I’m very happy with his attitude and will to accomplish all the tasks and everything that we ask. Arturo is one of them. We are still far from deciding on his side, but I can tell you in the first game he did very good. In the second game, he kept that good performance. We’re looking this week if we can get more from Arturo before we decide.”
On the team development
“I want to see in our team, guys who will take advantage of the situation now and earn the hearts of our fans, our staff, and other players. That’s what we are looking for in this situation. We want to convert the situation to a positive dynamic, where the players will be eager to play in a way the fans love and obviously, win for our team.”
“It’s a long term answer. Confidence and trust takes a long time to win. Hopefully we will get it.”
On style of play and preseason work
“We work on our mentality because mentality ignites our physical strength. Physical strength is something that is a support for our technique, technical and tactical side.”
“If we have a strong mentality, where we will understand concepts of the game. (We will know) What we have to do. When we have to do it, and how we have to do it.”
On Johan Kappelhof
“As he describes himself, and that’s what I liked in the interview that Nelson and I had with him before we decided to sign him, he said ‘I love to defend’, ‘I love the challenge of playing 1v1 and I’m really engaged in defending our goal’. At the same time what we saw him and how he took our attention in him was a soccer player who wants to play, build out of the back, who is committed with possession of the ball. In progression, he has a very good quality pass. His decisions are very good. He is a defender. That defensive mentality and defensive attitude is contagious, and that is what we are expecting from him. When we have to defend, because that’s the style of the game, what we expect from him is to be one of the leaders in our defensive line and (pass that attitude to) everyone in front of him.”
On expectations for David Accam
“What we are trying to teach in our style is that everyone is responsible for attack, and everyone is responsible for the defense and everyone has his role in those aspects of the game. We know that David is very important for us, but they all are. What we want to explain, is how we proceed in order to find David, so that David can excel in his talents for him, for our team, and for the best of our club. But it’s the same thing for everyone else. As you saw so far in the preseason, David is doing very good. He is pushing himself, which is something we wanted to see before the season started because we never worked together. He’s capable of that. He’s going to be very important this year.”
On Matt Polster
“He came after the national team camp. He was very, very excited and worked hard. He’s a young guy, full of potential, full of energy, which we have to channelize. We have to channelize his passion, his will to give his best in every possession and every game, which is very important. At the same time, we have to put that under control. That control has to come from him, and that’s what we are working on with him. We really think that he has potential. He has big value in our club, and in our league.”
On national team player attitudes
“From my experience, every player that comes after the national team camp and national team games, they are better. They are (full) of that spirit of national team. I can talk about Serbia, it’s always the highest expectations. When you see people all around you with the same values, and the same way of thinking that really makes you a better person, and a better player. What we expect from those guys, when they come back to their club, is to do the same in their environment.”
On Kennedy Igboananike’s spot
“Like everyone else, he has to earn his role in our team. So far he has worked very hard. He’s doing good. His attitude is good and he has to earn the spot in the team.
On Collin Fernandez and young players
“Everyone has a high level of hard working attitude, will to learn, and to improve. Collin is one of them too. We work on our team (from a) collective point of view, and also on the individual. Collin has the same attention from our staff as everyone else. He is a very good kid, and he needs to understand that from my experience in working from those ages, is the main shift for all youngsters will be the transition from the youth to senior level professional soccer. This is where we want to help him and Mauricio (Pineda) and other guys in order to have a future prospect for our club. It depends on them, and it depends on us and how well we do our job. Everybody has to do their part.”
- Johan Kappelhof has arrived in camp.
- The Fire will scrimmage against the University of Portland on Thursday at 9am CT.
- The next preseason match is Sunday against Vancouver (4:30pm CT).
- Saint Louis FC’s Parker Maher and draft pick Vincent Mitchell have departed camp.
- Rodrigo Ramos will join the team upon completion of his visa process.
- Another goalkeeper in Penn State product Matt Bersano and former Rochester Rhinos midfielder Christian Volesky are getting looks.
- The rumored move for a European attacking midfielder to replace Shipp doesn’t sound imminent but the Fire continue to pursue various options.
GK: Matt Bersano^, Sean Johnson, Callum Irving^, Matt Lampson^, Patrick McLain
DEF: Kinglsey Bryce, Jonathan Campbell, Joey Calistri, Patrick Doody, Eric Gehrig, Michael Harrington, Johan Kappelhof, Vincent Keller*, Joao Meira, Mauricio Pineda#, Rodrigo Ramos, Brandon Vincent
MID: David Accam, Arturo Alvarez^, Razvan Cocis, Drew Conner, Collin Fernandez, John Goossens*, Nick LaBrocca, Alex Morrell*, Matt Polster, Michael Stephens, Christian Volesky^
FWD: Gilberto, Kennedy Igboananike