Three of Fire’s homegrown players called into camp ahead of World Cup in USA; Shaqiri trains in Lugano

The Fire’s offseason has only just begun and thoughts of the 2023 MLS season are still on hold, but World Cup fever is spreading. The national teams are preparing for the tournament in Qatar and two Fire players are fighting for goal The Journey, Xherdan Shaqiri and Gaga Slonina, have left Chicago to prepare for the roster announcements. Meanwhile, several of Fire’s young players have been called up to the youth national teams as they seek to play a role in the future. We’re going to take a look at all of these players in today’s Fire notebook.

Slonina called up to USMNT

USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter will name his World Cup squad on November 9, and Chelsea’s Gaga Slonina is one of the contenders to become the United States’ third goaltender to go to Qatar. Berhalter called nine players from the MLS national team, who had already been eliminated from the playoffs, to camp in Frisco, Texas, to keep fit before the tournament. After returning from a week in London, Slonina arrives at US camp for a late push to go to the World Cup.

Slonina’s contenders for the third goalie spot are former fireman Sean Johnson, who is in good form and alive with NYCFC in the MLS Cup playoffs, and loanee Luton goalie Ethan Horvath. While it’s incredibly unlikely that any of the three will see the field, it would certainly be a great experience whoever goes and with Gaga’s game in the second half of 2022, he’s got a chance to fight for that spot, certainly deserved.

Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Gutiérrez and Brady join common US camp

Slonina won’t be the only Fire homegrown traveling to Frisco this week. Brian Gutiérrez and Chris Brady were also called up to this camp despite being officially part of the U-20 squad. Members of the US U-20 national team will form the roster, so to speak, so this is a combined roster between the senior team and the U-20 players. Neither Guti nor Brady stand a chance of making the World Cup squad but it will be a fantastic opportunity for them to train in front of the top US coach.

Remarkably, this is the first time that Gaga Slonina and Chris Brady will be at a US camp together. In the past, the fire has only ever allowed one of the two to go on international duty. Now both world-class products from the Chicago Goalie Academy have the opportunity to wear the Stars and Stripes side by side.

US Soccer

Shaqiri trains at FC Lugano

FC Lugano announced this week that Fire’s Swiss DP Xherdan Shaqiri will train with the club from October 24 until the start of Switzerland’s World Cup camp on November 13. This announcement marks the end of a string of rumors that Shaqiri would be training with the Fire’s sister club in preparation for the Qatar trip. Approved by Fire and Major League Soccer, this arrangement allows one of the league’s superstars to better prepare for the biggest tournament on earth.

“If Xherdan can train at the highest level with an ambitious Swiss club, that’s not only an advantage for him, but also for him [the national team]” Switzerland head coach Murat Yakin told Swiss outlet RSI. “We hope that he will come into the national team for the World Cup in the best possible form.”

TI press

Fire Academy represented in US U-15 camp

As Slonina and Shaqiri prepare for the 2022 World Cup, some may be working towards 2030. Highly rated Fire Academy center back Christopher Cupps was called up to the United States U-15 camp in Kansas City. Cupps is currently playing for two seasons with the Fire U-17s and will lead for the USA in next year’s CONCACAF U-15 Championship.

Called into the same camp was LAFC’s DeCarlos Guerra, who is reportedly set to join the fire in the near future. Guerra, who shares an agent with Gaga Slonina, is considered an elite defensive midfield talent for his age group and was on trial at VfL Stuttgart and Real Sociedad this year.

Former Fire Academy players Juan “Gio” Villa (Real Salt Lake) and Marius Aiyenero (Unattached) were also added to this roster. Both left the academy that summer.

Chicago Fire Academy

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