For the third straight season, the Seattle Sounders will need to figure out how to manage a midseason retirement. Two years ago, it was Clint Dempsey. Last year, it was Chad Marshall. This time, it’s Harry Shipp hanging up the boots.
“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 in a team release. “I am grateful that I was I was able to live out my childhood dreams. I grew up going to MLS games, was part of an MLS Academy in its infancy, and then got the opportunity to play for three clubs all over the continent.
“I am also grateful that my last full season ended in an MLS championship with Seattle. Thank you to all the fans who committed time and money to allow me to kick a ball for a living. Thank you to all my teammates over the years. You gave me more cultural learning experiences than I ever could have imagined from a job. Thank you to all the support staff who help make a team and club actually function. You all work way harder than any of us players. Thank you to my family, especially my wife, for being incredibly supportive on this journey. Thanks to the people of Seattle for making this feel like home for the past four years. I look forward to coming back to games as a fan!”
Shipp had been considering retirement for some time, but had hoped to finish out the year before enrolling in Northwestern University’s MBA program. The prolonged coronavirus break, however, caused Shipp to have second thoughts. After helping to see through negotiations for the updated Collective Bargaining Agreement as the Sounders’ representative, Shipp decided to get an early start on the next phase of his career. He was due to be out of contract at the end of this season.
Shipp informed the Sounders of his decision on Sunday. As midseason retirement of a player with a guaranteed contract, the Sounders won’t receive any salary cap relief. They will likely go to Florida for the MLS is Back Tournament with 25 players.
“Harry has been a valuable asset to our club and helped us win a championship this past year. Since he arrived in Seattle, Harry has shown that he is a reliable player and a consummate professional. He worked hard as the union representative for our club, and was well liked in the locker room,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “I’m happy for Harry to start a new chapter in his life. I know how hard it was to walk away from our club, and we will miss him both on and off the field.”
While this won’t be as impactful of Marshall’s unexpected loss a year ago, Shipp was still a significant part of the Sounders rotation. The midfielder had played in both of the Sounders 2020 matches, coming off the bench for a total of 38 minutes. He had also started 15 matches in each of the past two seasons. Last year, Shipp had one of his most productive seasons of his career, scoring five goals and adding three assists in just under 1,400 minutes.