Monday’s announcement that Victor Pineda would re-join the U.S. U-20’s for this week’s week-long camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. was a welcome one.
That’s because after tallying three goals and an assist and being called by Tab Ramos to every U-20 camp this cycle, Pineda was sidelined in November after suffering a torn left meniscus in post-season training.
RELEASE: Pineda called for U.S. U-20 Camp
Rehab from that surgery forced him to miss preseason with the Fire as well as the U-20’s successful CONCACAF qualifying in February.
“It’s a great opportunity to be back and going to camp,” Pineda told Chicago-Fire.com. “It keeps a little bit more motivation for me when I’m here just to keep working, to stay on top of things. I’m really excited to join the team again.”
Pineda is one of eight MLS players taking part in the camp that began Monday and will culminate with a friendly against the Chivas USA reserves on Sunday.
Though he’s been back in full training for about a month, Pineda admits he’s not back to full fitness just yet.
“I’m definitely not there yet fitness-wise. I feel like that’s going to depend on how many games I keep playing but I feel like I’ll be back to my full fitness pretty soon and this camp should help with that.”
Pineda, who has yet to make his first team debut, will hope to be back fully fit and on the U.S. roster that heads to Turkey for the World Championships in June.
Last month, the team received a difficult draw for the tournament, with group games coming against Spain, France and Ghana.
“There are three really good teams. It’s a great opportunity for the team to show what we have. If you want to win the World Cup, you have to beat the best. It’s a great opportunity for everybody.”
Before looking too far ahead to the World Cup though, Pineda will have to re-integrate himself into the side with this week’s camp providing the perfect opportunity.
“It was disappointing to miss qualifying. The first camp was last February and ever since I’d stayed on the team. After my injury, it’s a good accomplishment to be back in camp and I’m ready to work for my spot on the roster.”