Former homegrown Chicago Fire goalkeeper Gaga Slonina was called up to the USMNT’s camp today for the CONCACAF Nations League. This represents Gaga’s third call-up for a competitive window, following his maiden call in January 2022 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup over the summer.
The 19-year-old has enjoyed a mixed start to life at Eupen, a relegation-battling team in the Belgian top flight. Slonina has just one shutout in eleven matches, but that’s not entirely his fault, as they’ve been peppered with shots. With help from Gaga, Eupen are just above the relegation zone, sitting in tenth place; the bottom four teams would enter the relegation playoff.
Slonina’s senior call-up will likely be as Gregg Berhalter’s third-string goalkeeper behind Matt Turner and Ethan Horvath, so it’s quite unlikely he’ll see the field, barring a truly unique set of circumstances. He beats out Inter Miami’s Drake Callender and Toronto FC’s Sean Johnson to the post for the third spot, an encouraging sign for his hopes of staking a spot for the remainder of this World Cup cycle and beyond.
The most notable omissions from the roster are Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah, who both sustained injuries in recent weeks. It is particularly a blow for Pulisic, who would have been hoping to put demons to rest in Trinidad next week when the USMNT travels there for their Nations League matchup. Paxten Aaronson earned his first call-up, joining Slonina as another former U-20 in the roster, alongside winger Kevin Paredes, who returns after runouts in September and October.
Chris Brady was not named to the roster, and he is still yet to receive his first senior call-up. He’s expected to be a part of Marko Mitrović’s U-23 camp working towards next year’s Paris Olympics, and Gaga’s call to the senior team paves the way for Brady to start throughout the Olympic process. Nonetheless, on recent performances alone, Brady has likely surpassed Gaga at this point and should get opportunities in the coming months and years to break into the first team picture heading into 2026.
The senior team will face off against Trinidad and Tobago in a two-legged playoff on Thursday the 16th and Monday the 20th, which will double as a CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal and a play-in to the 2024 Copa América. Meanwhile, the U-23s, who will likely contain Brady and Brian Gutiérrez, face Iraq and Morocco in two friendlies next week; more updates will follow when details are confirmed.