SEATTLE – In a surprising announcement, Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Harry Shipp Tuesday announced his retirement from professional soccer.

The 28-year-old concluded a seven-year Major League Soccer career with Sounders FC, the Montreal Impact and Chicago Fire FC, making 164 career appearances (including postseason).

Shipp, who won a 2019 MLS Cup title with Seattle in his final professional season, plans to pursue an MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

“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,” Shipp said in a statement. “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, who $234,999.96 in base and guaranteed salary in 2019 (according to the MLS Players Association), participated in 157 regular season games, scoring 22 goals and assisting on 24 others. He made seven playoff appearances with two assists. Last year he scored five goals and added three assists. This year he played only 38 minutes over two games.

He started 41 of 64 appearances for Sounders FC after joining via trade following the 2016 season, helping the club to the 2019 MLS Cup title and a runner-up finish in 2017. He recorded 10 goals and seven assists in his time in Seattle. The Lake Forest, Illinois native also appeared in five postseason matches for Seattle, recording two assists.

“I want to thank Harry for his fantastic tenure with the Sounders. He helped us win a championship and was a consistent cog in our success,” Sounders FC general manager and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey said in a statement. “He always had a positive attitude whatever role he was asked to play in our team and was a great pro. We will support him as he moves forward with his next career and we wish him the best of luck at Northwestern. We couldn’t be more proud of him for embracing his next challenge. He will be missed.”

Shipp spent the 2016 season with Eastern Conference finalist Montreal Impact after being traded from Chicago, where he played in the the 2014 and 2015 campaigns after signing as a Homegrown Player out of Notre Dame. Shipp burst onto the scene with a stellar rookie season in 2014, tallying seven goals and six assists in 33 appearances as a rookie of the year finalist. He followed that with a career-high eight assists in 2015.

“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,” Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “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.”

A four-year standout at Notre Dame, Shipp helped lead the Fighting Irish to the first national championship in program history during his senior season, where he was a NSCAA first team All-American and a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist. Shipp totaled 84 appearances in four collegiate seasons, collecting 23 goals and 24 assists.

“While we are sad to see him go, we thank Harry for his contributions to the club for the past four years,” Sounders FC vice president sporting director Chris Henderson said. “We wish him the best in these next chapters of his life, where we have no doubt he will find success.”

Shipp served as Sounders FC’s MLS Player Association representattve and helped negotiate the agreement for the league’s plan to return to play following the suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.