Entering Saturday's match between the Chicago Fire and the Montreal Impact, much of the talk was about Harry Shipp's return to Toyota Park.
The Lake Forest native's trade from Bridgeview to Quebec in February was the most headline-grabbing move of the Fire's offseason, but by the time Didier Drogba and Ignacio Piatti scored second half goals to turn a halftime deficit into a road victory, Shipp was no longer the story of the game.
That's how things are going for Shipp in Montreal. He's not the focus of the Impact's attack, like many wanted him to be with the Fire, but he has still started all six matches and is a part of an Eastern Conference-leading team.
"Here we have so many talented guys and I just get to be a good role player and help the team win and that's what I've been doing the last six games and luckily it's worked out for us," Shipp said after Saturday's 2-1 Montreal victory.
Shipp had a couple chances to make even more headlines with a goal in his return, but he hit a sizzling shot just over the crossbar midway through the first half and was denied from close range by Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson in the second half. Shipp's first half shot sailed towards Section 8, the Fire's supporters' group, which served as a symbolic hello from Harry to his former fans.
After the match ended Shipp walked behind the south goal at Toyota Park and talked to some friends. This had been part of his routine for the past two years, but during those years he was doing it as a Fire player. Now he was the visitor.
"Being back the first time I always think it's going to be weird," Shipp said. "Once the game started I wasn't necessarily thinking about that. I think being here and walking out it was a little bit surreal I guess is the right word. For me once the game starts you're just playing soccer and you're doing your best to get three points for Montreal.
"It's nice to have friends, family, people I've known for forever here back, people that I just met since I started playing professionally here or just fans I would see after every home game. To kind of have their support after the game was nice and you don't get a lot of that with fans in Montreal in terms of me recognizing them because it's all so new to me. It's kind of nice to be back and have some familiar faces."
Another thing was probably a bit different for Shipp: the result. The Fire had dropped a lot of games late in Shipp's two years with the club. Now Shipp was on the winning end of a late goal thanks for Piatti's goal, which came in added time.
"Halftime it wasn't a great feeling being down to your former team, but to come back and get the win 2-1, it was a big win for us," Shipp said.