Fire sign 14-year-old goalie Gabriel Slonina; youngest pro contract in MLS since Freddy Adu

Jeremy Mikula, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Soccer

CHICAGO -- Oh kids, they grow up so fast these days.

The Fire on Friday signed goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina from the team's academy, making the 14-year-old the second-youngest signing in MLS history and the team's youngest homegrown player.

Slonina, an Addison, Ill., native who attends Addison Trail High School, is contracted through 2022 with a team option for the 2023 season. He is the youngest player signed to an MLS contract since Freddy Adu in 2003.

"Obviously, we believe that Gabriel has high potential," Fire President and general manager Nelson Rodriguez said in a statement. "While we would always prefer not to sign players at such a young age, a convergence of factors made his signing at this particular moment the right course of action for everyone."

Slonina comes with some degree of pedigree: The 6-foot-4, 196-pound keeper has been called in to training camps with the U.S. U14 and U15 boys national teams and has played three seasons for the Fire Academy. He holds both American and Polish citizenship, according to the Fire.

Despite his age, Slonina is eligible to play for the Fire this season -- but the team said he is unlikely to see any MLS action in the near future.

"We will be patient and deliberate in advancing Gabriel's development while ensuring he retains some normalcy as a teenager," Rodriguez said in a statement.


Cedric Cattenoy, the academy's technical director, said in a statement the team has a "development plan in place" for Slonina.

"The pathway to our first team is clear," Cattenoy said in the statement. "We will continue to sign those players who exhibit the right mentality and talent."

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