After an excellent 60 minutes in his first match of 2013 for the US U20’s against DRC last week, Fire homegrown player Victor Pineda went the entire 80 minutes in the U.S. team’s last match of the Toulon Tournament on Wednesday, succumbing to 1-0 loss to South Korea.
The loss meant the US went 1-3-0 in the tournament and did not advance to the final or third place games. Pineda’s performances in the last two matches however were enough to convince coach Tab Ramos to select him for the final squad for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey later this month.
Here is a breakdown of Victor's performance Thursday against South Korea:
In the first half, Pineda started on the left hand side of the front three in a 4-3-3 formation. In the last game against DRC, he started on the right before moving to the left after 30 minutes.
As I mentioned in the last recap, Victor is not afraid to move inside and he did so on eight minutes picking up a ball all the way on the right hand side of the box before being fouled just on the edge of the area.
On 11 minutes, Victor displayed more of his foot skills, back heeling a ball off a South Korean defender to win a throw in.
Throughout the first half, the U.S. team passed the ball very poorly and Victor was unable to get much of a look in.
On 31 minutes however he did manage to pick up the ball wide, cut inside and shoot low into the corner, only for the keeper to make a routine save.
On 35 minutes, Pineda switched over to the left hand side but the half ended with no more significant action about 5 minutes later.
In the second half, the US team came out a lot stronger and Pineda was heavily involved in a number of chances.
On 46 minutes, he was found in the box but his left footed attempt to curl the ball into the top corner ended up going wide.
On 48 minutes he started and almost finished the US side’s best move of the match.
Victor got the ball on the right wing from a throw before passing the ball inside and making his way into the box. After the ball was sent wide, a cross came in finding Victor with a free header which he snapped downward, only for the keeper to somehow prevent it from crossing the line.
A minute later Victor again found himself with the ball in the box, chesting it down before volleying towards goal only for a defender to deflect it wide.
He again moved to the left hand side after the 50th minute and after this began switching sides constantly. He cut inside and took a shot with his left in the 61st before doing a 1-2 in the middle in the 72nd minute and shooting off target.
Though his final pass or shot was not clinical in either of the games, Victor played well, had a lot of touches and made an impact despite these matches being his only minutes of 2013 for the U-20’s.
His ability to control the ball, especially in tight spaces particularly stood out. That being said, I believe the major reason Tab Ramos picked Pineda in the final squad for the U-20 World Cup is his ability to play a number of positions, be it wide left, wide right or through the middle.
In a tournament, you need players who are able to fill in a in a number of positions and Victor’s versatility could be extremely useful for the U.S. team in Turkey.
Check back on Chicago-Fire.com as Victor and the U20 team start their World Cup campaign in Turkey on Friday, June 21 when the they take on Spain.