Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
When Harry Shipp quietly became the Chicago Fire’s first Homegrown Player, few expected him to explode on the scene like this.
The Fire rookie has been the clear leader in the 2014 MLS rookie class and has been a regular starter for the Fire all season under head coach Frank Yallop, helping keep the Fire in contention for one of the final playoff places in the Eastern Conference.
Through his first 20 professional games, Shipp leads all rookies with six goals and five assists, including a Man of the Match performance at the New York Red Bulls, where he scored a hat-trick and had an assist in a 5-4 victory. Those accomplishments helped Shipp be a unanimous selection by the SBI editorial staff.
Shipp beat out a field that includes FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele and New England forward Patrick Mullins.
Here is a closer look at the top rookies in MLS through the season’s first half:
SBI MLS MID-SEASON ROOKIE OF THE YEAR RANKINGS
1. HARRY SHIPP
MLS Rookie leader in goals, assists, and minutes. One of the bright spots on a disappointing and inconsistent Fire squad this season. Shipp has six goals and five assists this season.
2. TESHO AKINDELE
The Canadian-born forward, drafted in the first round out of the Colorado School of Mines, stepped in for the injured Blas Perez in May and hasn’t looked back. Akindele has scored four goals, including three goals in his last four games. He also has an assist.
3. PATRICK MULLINS
While the New England Revolution have struggled for much of the season, Mullins provided a spark in May when he was placed in the center forward role. He not only combined well with Lee Nguyen and Teal Bunbury but also scored four goals in four games, all wins.
4. NICK HAGGLUND
Hagglund wasn’t necessarily expected to contribute for Toronto FC, but due to injuries to Doneil Henry and the suspension of Steven Caldwell, the Cincinnati native made his MLS debut in a 2-0 shutout of the Crew. Hagglund has made 12 appearances since then, including starting and playing the full 90 in each of his last four. Has four clean sheets this season.
5. STEVE BIRNBAUM
The second overall in the 2014 MLS Draft spent the first month of the season on loan at the Richmond Kickers but since making his debut in June, he’s provided solid defense alongside Bobby Boswell in place of the injured Jeff Parke. Birnbaum has started in each of the last eight D.C. United games.
Now it’s your turn to cast your vote for MLS Mid-Season Rookie of the Year. Cast your vote here:
What do you think of our selections? Who would get your Rookie of the Year vote at the midway point of the season?
Share your thoughts below.