The Chicago Fire had a handful of players called up for the respective national teams, but this year, that is more of a problem than a cause for celebration. For whatever reason, perhaps related to the strained regular season schedule caused by the expanded Leagues Cup, MLS will play through numerous international breaks this season, including this upcoming March window. Therefore, the players who are traveling with their national teams will miss next Saturday’s game against Inter Miami, and a number of players were not released by the club.
Miguel Navarro is the only fixture in the first-team squad who will be unavailable this weekend due to international duty. Navarro has won three caps for Venezuela entering the camp, having made his debut as a substitute against Lionel Messi and Argentina last March. It is his first call-up for Venezuela’s new head coach, Fernando Batista. The 24-year-old left-back will have to travel quite far for the friendly matches against Saudi Arabia (March 24) and Uzbekistan (March 28), both of which will be held in Jeddah.
“First of all, I’m grateful to God and [Coach] Batista for the opportunity and for trusting in my talent,” Navarro said after training last Friday. “It is good to keep working hard here to continue being considered for the National Team.”
Since the Fire will be without Navarro on Saturday, it can be presumed that new signing Alonso Aceves will make his debut at left-back. Jonathan Dean, who arrived at the club during the offseason, can also play there, and he was impressive in his minutes off the bench last week when he replaced Navarro in the second half.
Initially, it appeared that Xherdan Shaqiri would also be traveling for international duty. He was named to the Switzerland squad for their Euro 2024 qualifying matches against Belarus and Israel. However, the Swiss Federation confirmed yesterday that Shaqiri would not be joining the team for the camp. He is kept out by the same hamstring issue which kept him out against FC Cincinnati last Saturday, even though he was listed as “questionable” on the injury report and head coach Ezra Hendrickson indicated that he was “hopeful” Shaqiri would be back for that game. Most like the injury is either worse than initially made out to be, or he agreed to withdraw from the camp to minimize injury risk by staying with the club.
Three players were called up to the U.S. Youth National Teams, but only one is able to go. Sergio Oregel was once again called up to the U.S. U-19 National Team for a camp in Argentina this week. The U-19s, coached by former Fire assistant Marko Mitrović, will take on Argentina (March 24) and Racing Club de Avellaneda (March 27). Oregel is yet to feature for the first team this season, but he will get opportunities later in the year. Chris Brady and Brian Gutiérrez, both starters for the Fire, received invitations to the final U.S. U-20 camp before the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup, but they were not made available by the club and whether or not they’ll be released for the World Cup is unclear. Former Fire homegrown Gaga Slonina was called up in the absence of Brady.
Finally, there was one more player from the Chicago Fire system called up for their national team. Fire II winger Omari Glasgow, who was a standout player for the MLS Next Pro team last season, was called up to the Guyana national team. They will face Bermuda (March 25) and Montserrat (March 28) in a pair of CONCACAF Nations League matches. While it is unlikely that Guyana will be able to to beat out Haiti for first place, if they can win their matches against Bermuda and Montserrat, they’ll enter a play-in for the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer. When the Fire II season kicks off at the end of this month, Glasgow will have more opportunities to prove why he deserves a first team contract.