Fire notebook - Shipp trade, replacements, trialists, and more

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

Filed under: 2016 Pre Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • fb_avatar

    So can we assume then that Vincent Mitchell will not receive a contract offer? Any word or speculation on if ST Louis FC will offer him a contract?

  • In reply to Jimmy Garcia:

    Yes on the first idea on the second part.

  • How many players do the Fire have to have to be roster compliant?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Max is 28. There is no set minimum compliance number.

  • I had assumed brandon vimcent had signed, but has campbell been officially signed?

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    Vincent and Campbell are both signed.

  • I know there are people who read this blog who look down on players for showing their emotions (remember the criticism Polster got for crying when he was drafted? Sheesh.).

    But as a fan I like having some players around who are mercenaries, who have some emotional connection to the club as a whole and not just their paychecks or playing time.

  • These are all fine comments but I dont know if I will ever be able to forgive them for trading Shipp. Pauno said it was the technical side that was causing issues, right? Did he mean tactical side because Harry Shipp was the most technically gifted player we had on the team. He had the best touch and control of the ball of any player we had last season.

    And is Cocis going to be our captain this season? The guy doesnt seem to lead with his voice, actions, or playing ability. Give it to Sean or Polster. They atleast seem like leaders by their actions and ability. Polster could/should be our Will Trapp.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Yes....he was referring more to the tactical side.
    Cocis is respected as a veteran that leads in practice and in the locker room. Polster may be too young and mistake prone for that right now. Johnson would be a candidate based on longevity.

  • Not a bad thing to have Volesky in camp. From the few Rhino's games I was able to see last year, (and I'm acknowledging that we're talking about USL,) Volesky wasn't too shabby. He was one of those players that drew attention.

    Whether or not that would translate to MLS is another story.

  • I am still a bit confused after hearing NR and LP. What is NR selling and to whom? We are a city rich in soccer history and tradition but the message I am getting is like this is an expansion team in South Nowhere. LP's reasoning of selling our most technically gifted player...well I just will echo everyone else's comments including the further alienation that move has caused in the Fire faithful. Season start is not even a month away and we are "pursuing various options" for who are #10 player is going to be.
    And as for pinning our offensive hope on Accam. Yes he is deadly fast. He is also Calen Carr 2.0..a lightweight who is easily muscled off the ball and spends a lot of time off his feet on the field.
    Lastly Guillermo, I have seen Frank K talking with front office types around Fire Pitch lately, any news if he is interviewing for a position in the club?

  • In reply to Fireman1:

    I think it's very possible that Klopas will be involved this year in some way.

  • fb_avatar

    Pauno's explanation of the Shipp trade doesn't make sense. Just because some other team is interested in one of our players, why trade him. Even if Shipp wasn't going to be a starter this year, he is a MLS experienced high-quality sub that doesn't eat up much salary. What option for midfield off the bench is the Fire going to bring in that would be a better option than Shipp? If Pauno really feels that Shipp is their 7-8 midfield option, then his ability to judge talent has to be massively questioned. There is no way that the Fire will be able to get a player of Shipp's ability and experience at the salary that Shipp was making. Therefore, this sale makes the team worse, period!!!

  • In reply to Chris Page:

    Good point regarding depth and relative cost.

  • In reply to Chris Page:

    I have to agree with this reasoning. I don't see how NR and VP can use the little bit of allocation money we got to replace, let along improve on, Shipp's quality.

  • In reply to Chris Page:

    I think this is the major sticking point. Most of us have accepted that maybe Shipp isn't starter quality guy you build a team around. But surely he is good cheap depth?

    The only hitch I see in this, and I want to note I DON'T AGREE so don't bite my head off, but I can see Paunovic not having a CAM the way Shipp plays as part of his tactics. Not only starting but not even off the bench. He maybe wants his central mids to only be two way guys, creative two way guys like Feilhaber probably, but have the ability to hold the ball and track back which Shipp really doesnt. So that leaves Shipp as a backup center forward or winger, which he isn't. I think that's the rationale that results in Shipp being so far down the depth chart that this trade makes sense. Again I DON'T AGREE, but it's a coaching decision and I can't pretend to know how to coach.

  • In reply to Chris Page:

    Agree completely. It makes no sense. So he won't be a starter - so what? Don't try to tell me that you care *so* much about Shipp's happiness that you traded him so he could potentially see more playing time. Also it's a fantasy to believe that your 11 preferred starters will start every game; due to injuries alone a 2nd string midfielder can expect plenty of minutes.

    As you said, why give up that depth?? I guess because there's already *so much* talent on this team, right? Give me a break. It's expected that a new management team will shake things up, and particularly that they'll get rid of aging, expensive players, like Larentowicz, Magee, etc. But I don't understand getting rid of talented young, inexpensive players like Shipp and - not sure if everyone else agrees - Joevin Jones.

    These are going to be the decisions people look at come November if we're still at the bottom of the table.

  • This type of one way dealing that nr is doing is starting to remind me of Novak with the union. It certainly didn't get him too far.

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    Hopefully he isn't spanking the players...

  • No matter how you look at it, there should always be room on the roster for good players. Harry Shipp is a good player. Right now we don't have ma y good players. We tend to struggle when looking for good players as an organization. Now we have no idea how these new players will play. One thing that is usually not good, is having players that are inexperienced in this league. In our starting lineup on Sean Johnson will have more than a year and a half in the league. It's going to be a real struggle this year, that's a given. I'm willing to be patient as long as I see a plan. I'm. It sure what the plan is though.

    I was listening to the 5 live radio podcast and I think it was Joey Barton that made a good point. He was talking about Aston villa and how terrible they have been with foreigners on the roster not putting in the works d the supporters being furious. The supporters wouldn't feel the same way if Villa putting out young hometown players though. That's the way I feel. We can be the worst team in the history of the league this year, as long as we have a clear plan for the future. I don't see how getting rid of a hometown kid who is very good is part of any successful plan. I can't handle another season. Where we are putting out subpar, older players who have zero future at this club. We should be signing guys that are going to be on this team for the next 5 years. Harry Shipp could/should have been on this team for the next 10 years. There is no player out there that is going to love this team more than Harry did/does. It's a bad decision that is a hop in the wrong direction.

  • Harry Shipp has been one of the few bright spots over the past couple years and is extremely gifted. All of his development has been under a system that isn't capable of developing young players. If he had the right coaching and mentoring he could be great. Even IF you move him, you wait for the right opportunity to do so. He is worth a lot more than what he was traded for. To have a promising young player who costs so little is worth a lot in these league.

    The biggest problem I have with this new regime is their tendency to be quick to fire and slow to hire. I don't think they should rush to hire anyone but I also think certain players require careful evaluation and Shipp definitely is a player you evaluate carefully. He should have been on this team for at least the 2016 season and if we were unable to fit him into the system or weren't capable of developing him, then we move him for money and a player that would be a better fit. Montreal made out big with this deal, this honestly was probably better for him but I don't believe for a second that the team intentionally took a bath on this deal to do Harry a favor.

  • fb_avatar

    GR please list me and a few hundred other Chicago Fire Soccer followers as "trialists", as we evaluate the team and it's new management before we commit to a "contract" as passionate fans!

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