Major League Soccer

Chicago Fire's Gabriel Slonina sets lofty goals for future

Patrick Felts
Gabriel Slonina in goal for Chicago Fire against New England Revolution
Gabriel Slonina in goal for Chicago Fire against New England Revolution / Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/GettyImages

While 2021 has been a rough season for Chicago Fire FC, the team has a young star ready to make an impact on the club going forward.

Gabriel Slonina, the 17-year-old, became the youngest goalkeeper to ever start an MLS match on August 4th against NYCFC at Soldier Field in Chicago. Slonina has four shutouts in just 10 starts this season. 

The teenager from Addisson, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago, has quickly ascended with his hometown club. 

His ultimate goal: to become the best on the planet.

“I strive to want to be the greatest goalkeeper in the world,” Slonina told ESPN’s Futbol Americas.

“So I think I'm just going to keep putting in that work, making sure I take the right steps toward that direction every single day.”

While Slonina has been a major revelation for the Fire, the team has still struggled mightily this season. The Fire are firmly out of the Eastern Conference playoff race after reaching only 12th place with 34 points.

The Fire have not qualified for the playoffs since 2017, but Slonina is confident that after a disappointing 2021, the club can right the ship ahead of next season. 

“Obviously it was a difficult season and individually it's good what I've done and the performances I’ve put in, but obviously you want the team to perform first and foremost. It’s all about the team and making sure we can improve and be better next season.”

Slonina aims to become the best goalkeeper in the world, but right now he remains grounded in the present, representing his hometown club in MLS.

The son of Polish immigrants, Slonina has represented the United States in youth competition, and is not focused on a potential European move or which national team he would represent.

For now, the teenager is focused on making himself the best player he can be and preparing for the present.

“I always believed in myself from the start. It was good the time came now and I’m using it to my advantage and getting every opportunity I can and squeezing the most out of it. I was always preparing for this moment and giving my all every day in training, in everyday life outside of training, making sure I’m doing the right things.”