An important part of the current Fire, Przemyslaw Frankowski appears to be moving on.
Someone who could be a prominent piece of their future, Gabriel Slonina, made his debut in the Fire’s 0-0 tie with New York City FC on Wednesday night at Soldier Field. In front of an announced crowd of 8,371, Slonina made four saves but the Fire were shut out for the seventh time and extended their winless streak to five.
It looks like the Fire will have to find more offense without Frankowski.
Per multiple sources, the Fire are in negotiations to transfer Frankowski to RC Lens in France’s Ligue 1. Though it’s not a done deal, both clubs are working through a few final details. But the structure of the agreement is in place, and the transaction is very likely to be finalized before the Aug. 31 European deadline.
Signed in 2019 for around $1.65 million (per the website Transfermarkt) from Polish team Jagiellonia Białystok, the transfer fee would be double what the Fire paid for the speedy winger Frankowski, whose contract expires after the 2022 MLS season. The deal seems to be good business for the Fire and also Frankowski, who would join an RC Lens team that finished seventh in Ligue 1 last season.
Frankowski, who was not on the active roster Wednesday, had been especially effective after playing with Poland in the European championships, scoring two goals and adding two assists since his return.
The sale would give the Fire a chance to get something for the 26-year-old. It also can be used as a good selling point for the Fire, who can show that players can join the team, develop and move to a top-five league in the world.
Speaking of development, the Fire (3-9-5, 14 points) handed the 17-year-old goalkeeper Slonina his first career start. A homegrown signing in March 2019, Slonina became the youngest starting goalie in league history by more than a year.
“Super emotional,” Slonina said. “A lot of hard work went into this moment, but I’m proud of the team for fighting and keeping this a tie and getting a point because every point is important in the season.”
Expected to be the Fire’s goalkeeper of the future, Slonina was pressed into duty because of a left knee issue with Bobby Shuttleworth. Slonina also became the Fire’s 10th starting goalie in league play since the trade that sent away Sean Johnson, who made his 127th start for NYCFC.
An appearance by Slonina, or fellow 17-year-old goalie Chris Brady, was going to be a possibility after the Fire chose not to sign a third veteran behind Shuttleworth and Kenneth Kronholm. And with Kronholm absent due to a knee injury he suffered last year, it was Slonina’s turn when Shuttleworth was ruled out.
And he didn’t look like the moment fazed him.
“I’m super grateful and thankful for the team,” Slonina said, “and feeling great right now.”
NOTE: Defender Wyatt Omsberg was suspended for Wednesday’s game after the Fire’s appeal of his Sunday red card was denied.