CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago Fire FC goalie Gabriel Slonina now has six shutouts in 13 career starts. The Addison native is in his second season playing goalie for his hometown pro team.
CBS 2 Sports Director Marshall Harris caught up with the 17-year-old nicknamed "Gaga" to see how his first job is going, and to find out more about that nickname.
Slonina said he first got the nickname when he was only 6 or 7 years old.
"This is the first memory I have of it. I just hear the crowd chanting 'Super Gaga,'" Slonina said. "I would literally print it on my shirts, and everything in the back."
It's one of his earliest soccer memories, and it has stuck with him ever since.
He went on to become the youngest Homegrown Player signing in Major League Soccer history when he signed on with the fire at age 14.
"I think the earliest memories is in my hometown part, just playing with the park district, and being 5, 6 years old, and being that big kid in goal, and just making saves. It's memories I'll never forget," he said.
Slonina knew he wanted to be a goalie from the first day he ran out onto a soccer pitch.
"I was always a bigger kid when I was smaller, but I just loved the goalkeeper position, being in the goal, and just feeling like a monster in the goal. You know, the goals are always so small, so I was always covering the goal so well," he said.
Slonina, now 6'4", is much bigger since he first started playing soccer, but so are the goals at the Major League level.
"You adjust to the goal size and everything. So I think the biggest challenge is just the speed of play, you know? It's a big step up from academy to professional. So I think just seeing as much as possible, and now having players like [Xherdan Shaqiri] and [Kacper] Przybylko, and seeing them play at that top level, and Rafael [Czichos] as well, you can adjust to that speed, and sort of get used to that type of rhythm," he said.
Soccer is truly a family affair for Slonina, who got to play with his older brother, Nicholas, for a couple years before Nicholas stepped away from the sport.
"It was amazing to play with my brother, and it was super funny," he said. "It was truly an honor, because we both wanted to be professionals growing up. So it was an amazing experience."
Slonina also is now a member of the U.S. Men's National Team. He got the call up for World Cup qualifiers, and could even see action in the next round later this month because of injuries to other goalies.
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