Shipp regaining form as Sounders host Fire

With the Chicago Fire in 2014, Harry Shipp scored seven goals and was a finalist for the MLS Rookie of the Year Award.

It took him three years with three teams to match that total.

But the midfielder finally seems to be getting back to his rookie form with the Seattle Sounders, who play host to the Fire on Saturday night at CenturyLink Field.

Shipp, who missed time with an ankle injury, scored his first MLS goal of the season on June 13 in the Sounders’ 2-1 loss at the New York Red Bulls. He also scored in a recent U.S. Open Cup match.

“I feel like I’m at a place to contribute a great amount to this team,” Shipp told SoundersFC.com after training earlier this week. “I’m someone who doesn’t judge myself on stats, but it’s some nice validation. I’ve put in some good work the last three or four weeks in training and gotten rewarded for it.

“Personally, I’m feeling good and confident, and hopefully I’ll get another goal or major contribution this weekend to help the team win.”

The two-time defending Western Conference champion Sounders (3-8-2) can use all the help they can get, especially offensively. They have lost four of their past five games and scored just 10 goals all season.

The Fire (5-4-7), who are unbeaten in their past three matches, haven’t had trouble scoring with 23 goals this season. Nemanja Nikolic, last season’s Golden Boot Award winner as the MLS’ top scorer, leads the way with six.

“Chicago’s a talented team, they’ve got some guys who can score goals,” Shipp said. “We’ve got some stuff to build off from our last home game (a 2-1 victory against D.C. United). We need a win, we need three points, so hopefully we’ll get that.”

Chicago’s problem has been on defense, having allowed 28 goals.

The Fire are coming off a short week, having posted a 1-0 victory at Atlanta on Wednesday in a U.S. Open Cup match.

“We have to put aside the Open Cup competition and focus on league,” Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. “The mindset has to be set on our next opponent in Seattle. We know it’s going to be a tough game. They need points and we also do.”

The Sounders will be without defender Roman Torres (Panama) and midfielder Gustav Svensson (Sweden), who are playing in the World Cup in Russia.

Seattle holds a 7-2-3 edge in the all-time series with the Fire and is 4-0-1 at home.