The Chicago Fire will face their toughest test of the season thus far as they take on the high-flying LA Galaxy at Soldier Field on Saturday night. The Galaxy, who boast such global stars as Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and Douglas Costa, sit second place in the Western Conference and are coming off a dramatic 2-1 win over city rivals LAFC in “El Tráfico.” The Fire held their final practice at Soldier Field ahead of the game.
Statuses of Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabian Herbers
The Swiss DP came out in the 19th minute against FC Dallas in week 5 with calf tightness and missed last week’s 1-0 loss in Orlando. On Wednesday, his status was listed as “day-to-day,” but he didn’t train with the full team today and trained individually. His availability for tomorrow remains up in the air, and whether he can start or come off the bench is yet to be determined.
Head coach Ezra Hendrickson stated that it will be close to a game-time decision: “We’ll see how he feels.”
Midfielder Fabian Herbers also missed the match in Orlando due to injury, having suffered an injury to his right hip. He did not train today and is very much doubtful for the game against the Galaxy.
Hendrickson: “He’s nursing that injury. Right now, he’s questionable… we’ll see what happens.”
Gaga Slonina looks forward to facing LA, Chicharito
It’s difficult to remember a time in the last four years when there was as much buzz and national media attention around a Fire game. The 17-year-old goalkeeper is relishing to the opportunity to play in a game as big as this one.
“It’s gonna be a pretty challenging game,” said Slonina. “A lot of fans are expected to be here, so it’s going to be a great atmosphere; I’m super excited... It’s just about staying in the moment. Enjoying every moment is important as well.”
Slonina also spoke about going up against the Galaxy’s stars, Chicharito and Douglas Costa. Slonina was only five years old when Chicharito joined Manchester United and recalls watching both the Mexican striker and Costa growing up.
“It’s amazing even hearing those names. Those guys are some of the guys you see playing in the World Cup and the Champions League, so to be able to play against them at home at Soldier Field is truly an amazing feeling.”
Though the Slonina has kept four clean sheets from the first six games, the Galaxy could prove a different test. Chicharito is the joint leading scorer in the league, tied with Jesús Ferreira and Brandon Vásquez on 5 goals.
Season-high attendance expected
On Thursday, the Fire confirmed that 25,000 tickets had already been sold for Saturday’s game. The home opener against Orlando City drew 25,477 fans, and the game against the Galaxy will likely eclipse that. Whether or not the figure ultimately surpasses last season’s high of 31,308 from the game against Real Salt Lake remains to be seen.