PINEDA EYING BRIGHT U-20 FUTURE
In 2010 Victor Pineda was signed as the Chicago Fire's first ever home grown player, and ever since the US youth international has continued the difficult development as a professional soccer player.
Pineda's unique insight as an MLS academy product and youth international player is telling about soccer in the US.
This summer, Pineda played a large part in Tab Ramos' Milk Cup squad that finished in 4th place in Northern Ireland. The midfielder scored two goals in the tournament and learned a lot from this stint with the U-20 national team, including the collective growth and adjustment to a new style of play.
"Our team chemistry grew a lot more," said Pineda on the learning experiences at the Milk Cup. "I think just adjusting to the style that Tab Ramos wants us to play (was a learning experience).
The 19-year old is conscious of a new playing strategy on the part of the US national teams and brings an interesting perspective on it.
"It's probably a bit different if you are used to watching the US national team. It's aggressive. He (Ramos) wants us to press forward. He wants us to press on their side of the field, and wants us to capitalize on their mistakes. It's a lot more offensive than what I have been used to in the past.
The right footed midfielder, who can play on either wing of the US' 4-3-3 set up, feels content with how he performed this summer and has a positive eye on what the future holds.
"Yeah, I felt pretty comfortable after the games in the Milk Cup. I scored 2 goals and that's obviously going to help me out. But, I just have to keep working. I just try to keep it as real as I can with myself. I'm probably going to keep working on the stuff I need to keep working on for the next chance and try to stick with the team for qualifying.
In regards to his development as a professional, Pineda is mindful of the difficulties that come with being a teenager in MLS. The Illinois native has not featured for the Fire first team this season.
"It has been the goal since I signed, since I started my professional career," regarding playing with the Fire first team.
"I haven't rostered in any games this year. I rostered in 4 or 5 games last year. I was feeling pretty confident going into this year, but I don't know. We'll see what happens."
"I'm just excited after the Milk Cup that I might get some minutes and try to do the best I can. I feel pretty confident," Pineda went on to say.
Prior to signing with the Fire, Pineda had other options as to where to continue his career.
"I had a couple of tryouts, (with) a couple of teams in Mexico. But, my main focus was going to college. Going to school and trying to play college soccer. I didn't know where yet, but that was probably what I was going to decide if I didn't sign for pro."
The Fire midfielder though eventually chose MLS, and the choice was not difficult according to Pineda.
"It honestly was not (a hard decision to forego college)," Pineda went on to say. "I always wanted to play soccer. And as soon as I heard the idea of signing here I didn't really think twice about signing for college."
The road since though has been difficult, and Pineda's candid approach to the young MLS development program speaks volumes.
"For myself it's been tough. Obviously not playing is not going to do you any well. I guess playing in the academy has helped me grow. And, getting time with the national team has helped my game. I guess just doing more work after training, like doing technical stuff on your own. It's hard to get better just training here.
Throughout his young yet fruitful soccer journey thus far, Pineda's perspective on himself and the US youth national team is important. The midfielder is aware of the pressure for himself and the US, but is confident about the future.
"There is always pressure for the US to perform. Especially now with the new coaching styles that they're implementing with all the younger teams. I think it'll do us good. We have good players and we have a good coaching staff. We just have to work on the style, and I think we will be fine. Were just going to have to keep it up with our defensive line. I think we'll be fine.
With a quarter of the 2012 MLS season still to come and the U-20 World Cup qualifying just months away, Pineda hopes to play a role for both campaigns.