Harry Shipp ends playing career as a champion, turns his sights to life after soccer

On Tuesday, Sounders FC midfielder Harry Shipp announced his retirement from professional soccer, calling time on seven-year career, which included starring for his hometown club and culminated in a 2019 MLS Cup title.

Shipp, 28, is stepping away from the game as he shores up his post-soccer career, with the cerebral midfielder opting to attend the prestigious Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

"This was not an easy decision because of all the amazing people at the Sounders, but I am excited to take this next step in my life,” said Shipp. “I am grateful that I was I was able to live out my childhood dreams."

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Shipp’s career is just how much he improved year-over-year to keep pace with the league. First entering Major League Soccer in 2014, he found ways to consistently contribute as the league has increasingly imported expensive attacking talents from around the world. American soccer changed so much in just a few years, and Shipp carefully crafted his playing style to change with it.

In an interview during the 2020 MLS preseason, Shipp shed some light on his ambitions for post-playing days.

“My long-term goal is to run an MLS club,” Shipp told SoundersFC.com. “I love soccer and I’ve been alive in this growth period of the sport in this country. I feel invested and I want to see that process out, where MLS is treated the same as the NFL, NBA and MLB. I think there’s been great strides in that, and I think as the league continues to grow, there will be more power at the team level to drive that growth forward. And being a part of that growth on a team level is something that’s super appealing to me.”

A consummate professional on and off the field, he’s done plenty of work away from the limelight, eagerly embracing a mentorship role with some of the top talents from Sounders Academy and serving as the Sounders’ player rep for the MLS Players Association.

After a sterling collegiate career with the University of Notre Dame, Shipp burst onto the scene as a rookie Homegrown for the Chicago Fire, tallying 10 goals and 15 assists across his first two seasons in MLS.

Following a one-year stint with the Montreal Impact, Sounders FC picked up Shipp in 2017 as they sought to defend their MLS Cup title. Not only did he provide valuable minutes in midfield throughout the regular season, he started two matches and made a third appearance off the bench during the playoffs as the Sounders returned to the title game.

The next season, Shipp, who played a key role in the Sounders adopting a more possession-oriented style, notched three goals and three assists from 15 starts. The numbers don’t do Shipp’s contributions in 2018 justice, though, as he started every game of the club’s historic nine-game winning streak.

Shipp once again solidified his importance to the squad in 2019, with the midfielder recording five goals and three assists. Not only did he post some impressive personal stats, his attacking contributions – especially against Atlanta United, the New England Revolution, San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy – helped the Rave Green secure seven additional points over the course of the season. Without those crucial goals and assists, the Sounders would have finished the regular season as the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.

Put simply, without Shipp’s steady, underrated displays last season, the Sounders would not have won the 2019 MLS Cup in front of 70,000 supporters at CenturyLink Field.

Thank you for everything, Harry, and best of luck in your next chapter!