That falls in line with a lofty goal the 17-year-old has set for himself this year, aiming to dethrone Tony Meola as the MLS single-season shutouts leader. Meola, who now calls Slonina’s Fire games on local TV broadcasts, posted 16 shutouts during the 2000 campaign with the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City).
“For the season, I want to keep  clean sheets because I know that …  was the MLS record,” Slonina said on Thursday’s Extratime episode. “I want to try and beat that and continue to push myself to the top. Start at least 30 matches, getting that game experience in, making sure that I’m developing. Obviously games are most important for a young player.”
Extratime 1-on-1 with 17-year-old Chicago Fire phenom Gaga Slonina
As simple as it sounds, reaching that mark might be a case of Slonina staying in MLS for the entire year. He was reportedly the subject of transfer interest from English Premier League sides this past January window, though no move developed.
Should Slonina make that jump, or to another major league in Europe, he’d follow in the footsteps of US men’s national team goalkeepers Matt Turner (New England Revolution to Arsenal) and Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew to Manchester City) as MLS exports.
“We don’t really talk about it much with my agent,” Slonina said of the transfer rumors. “I’m usually just telling him how I’m feeling every single day. We have such a good connection about that type of stuff. I know he’s working his hardest for me and I’m working my hardest to continue to get those offers. … I like to keep all that stuff out and just focus on the next game because obviously the next one’s the most important.”
Another weighty decision for Slonina involves his international future, as he’s eligible for both the US and Poland. He said on Extratime that a declaration is “so much further down the line,” though he hasn’t trained with the UEFA side just yet.
Conversely, Slonina was with manager Gregg Berhalter’s team for Concacaf World Cup qualifiers during the January/February 2022 window. That experience left a strong impression on the youngster.
“It’s a whole new perspective, seeing what these guys act like on the field and even off the field,” Slonina said. “Everyone there is so fit, so professional and it’s clear why they play in Europe. It’s obvious that these guys are the best Americans in the world and it was an extreme honor just to become friends with them off the field and then building that connection on the field and having them take shots at me. You’re taking shots from Christian Pulisic; he plays at Chelsea, it’s incredible.”
Amid the buzz, Slonina remains fully focused on Chicago’s new era under head coach Ezra Hendrickson. He hailed the addition of Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri, and believes their struggles are in the past – even referencing the Fire’s 1998 MLS Cup title.
“We’ve done a great job at changing a lot of things at this club," Slonina said. "We want to go for the MLS Cup this year. I know we can do it, I know we can add another star to this logo.”
For more from Slonina, watch his entire Extratime interview here.