When it comes to futsal, soccer’s smaller indoor cousin, spectators are usually wowed by individual moments of brilliance from the outfield players. It’s a graceful pirouette here or a quick nutmeg there that tends to catch the eye… at least most of the time. This particular game of futsal, though? Well, this one is different.
The biggest stars aren’t outside the box pulling skill moves from their back pockets. They’re inside the box making saves.
“All I remember is it was the most intense thing I've ever experienced up until that point in my life,” Chicago Fire and U.S. U-23 goalkeeper Chris Brady told Backheeled in a sit-down last month.
On one side of this futsal matchup in Chicago from nearly a decade ago is Gaga Slonina, a young goalkeeper who will go on to start for the Chicago Fire and join the United States’ international setup. On the other side of this matchup is Brady, another young goalkeeper who will go on to start for the Chicago Fire and join the United States’ international setup.
“It was literally a battle for the entire futsal game, and I felt like it was me versus Gaga,” Brady continued.
Brady, now 19 years old, is a very highly rated goalkeeper. He's a staple with the United States U-23 team as they march towards the Olympics for the first time since 2008. He was one of the only bright spots for the Chicago Fire in 2023 as their starting goalkeeper, saving more goals than expected this season according to FBref.
Brady overlapped with Slonina, also 19, with the Fire before Slonina moved to Chelsea earlier this year.
“We played differently,” Brady said of their futsal approaches. “I think he was the type to really come out of his little arch he had there and start ripping shots and start making passes outside of his box. I was the guy to just sit home and just make saves the whole time and let my team really work. I remember it was super intense… and we were just making saves.”