Chicago Fire Midfielder Victor Pineda talks U.S. U-20 Camp, Getting Back to Full Fitness

Pineda suffers minor ankle injury in Reserve win, continues work to make U.S. U-20 roster

Fire midfielder Victor Pineda took a big step in his recovery from offseason meniscus surgery last week as he joined the U.S. U-20 national team for a training camp in Carson, Calif.

And as recovery goes, Pineda is the first to admit he’s not back to full fitness just yet.

“It was good to be back with the team and the guys,” Pineda told Chicago-Fire.com “It was hard on my knee because I still wasn’t used to just the intensity there and the amount of time. There were a couple two-a-day sessions that were pretty hard and an intra-squad match and a game against Cal FC that was pretty intense.”

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Pineda scored in both matches at the camp but returned this week with soreness in his knee which kept the original Fire Homegrown player out of training on Tuesday.

However, the Bolingbrook, Ill. product did start Wednesday’s 2-1 Reserve win over FC Dallas before being withdrawn with an ankle injury in the 19th minute.

Pineda’s early exit was a precaution according to Fire head coach Frank Klopas.

“[The injury] was nothing major, I think he got kicked. He came back and felt some pain but I think if anything it’s a sprain. It was nothing serious from what they saw. I think he should be okay in a couple days.”

With the injury just a minor setback, Pineda will continue work on his fitness with the view of making the U.S. U-20 roster for June’s World Cup in Turkey.

U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos has recently made comments about the difficulty of assembling a full roster even for qualifying earlier this year. While the full complement of players didn’t join Pineda last week in Carson, the Fire midfielder said the competition for spots is high.

“This past camp was great because every player there could earn a spot for the World Cup. Sometimes it feels like there are two or three that aren’t at the level but this camp was really competitive.

“We probably won’t get all the players until 10 days before the World Cup starts. It’s tough for the team because it would be important if we could get everyone together and prepared.”

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Pineda’s spot on the U-20 roster isn’t a certainty but he was heavily involved in Ramos’ side prior to his injury in November.

Klopas was adamant in pointing out what Pineda taking part in a World Cup would mean for the player.

“We have to help him as much as we can. Obviously we have to do things here that will give him the opportunity to make that squad. I think that would be a dream for any player.

“It’d be great for Victor and great for us. I talk to Tab and see how he’s coming along, what he saw in that camp and maybe some of the things we can do here to continue to improve so he gets even better and sharper going into the next camp.”

That camp will run from May 25-June 7 as the U.S. U-20s take part in the Toulon Tournament in France as a warm-up for the World Cup in Turkey.