HOMEGROWN WORLD CUP BOUND
Fire's Pineda selected for U.S. U-20 team
Chicago Fire midfielder Victor Pineda has been selected by U.S. Under-20 Menís National Team head coach Tab Ramos for the 21-man roster to participate in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey from June 21-July 13.
Pineda, the first Homegrown player in Fire history, scored three goals and added one assist in six appearances for the U-20s in 2012. The Bolingbrook, Ill. native missed the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship while rehabilitating from meniscus repair surgery that he underwent Nov. 15, 2012. Pineda was recently a member of the squad that participated in the Under-21 Toulon Tournament in France.
Utilized as a forward for the U-20s, the Fire Academy product has been with the national team since May 25 and will return to Chicago following the World Cup.
The group is a familiar one during the World Cup qualifying process with 17 of the 21 helping lead the U-20 MNT to a runner-up finish at the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship earlier this year.
"We're very happy about the group we selected," said Ramos. "Obviously it's always difficult. Wednesday night we were up till late selecting the final couple players. It's always hard to let a player go who's worked so hard to get here, and we know that we have 35 players who are deserving of going to the World Cup."
The U.S. is coming off a four-game stretch at the Under-21 Toulon Tournament in France, where Ramos and his staff utilized the event to evaluate and finalize the U-20 World Cup roster. Sixteen of the players on the USA's 22-player Toulon Tournament roster are part of the World Cup. The five who were not with the team in France include Philadelphia Union Academy goalkeeper Zach Steffen, Seattle Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin, midfielder Luis Gil of Real Salt Lake, and forwards Mario Rodriguez of 1. FC Kaiserslautern and Villarreal.
As was his role in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship and previous tournaments, SC Freiburg defender Caleb Stanko will serve as the team captain in Turkey. Two newcomers to the U-20 MNT were brought in for the Toulon Tournament - FC Dallas midfielder Kellyn Acosta and Monterrey forward Alonso Hernandez, having both performed well at the event.
The roster features 17 players who have ties to the Development Academy, including three current Academy players in Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy) and Zach Steffen (FC DELCO). In addition, nine players on the roster are signed by MLS clubs: Acosta (FC Dallas), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Mikey Lopez (Sporting Kansas City), Shane O'Neill (Colorado Rapids), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Jose Villarreal (LA Galaxy) and DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders).
Forward Daniel Cuevas is the team's leading scorer with four goals this year. He scored twice during the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, had the team's first goal of 2013 during a 2-2 draw against Panama on Jan. 19 and scored the lone goal during the USA's 1-0 victory against the Democratic Republic of Congo on June 1 in the Toulon Tournament.
The U-20 MNT was drawn into a difficult group for the FIFA U-20 World Cup. The U.S. opens Group A play against Spain on Friday, June 21, at Ali Sami Yen Arena in Istanbul. The match will be broadcast at 12:45 p.m. CT, live on ESPN2 and WatchESPN. That is followed by a June 24 game against France in Istanbul, live on ESPN2 and WatchESPN at 9:45 a.m. CT. The U.S. closes out group play with a June 27 match against Ghana at Kadir Has Stadium in Kayseri, Turkey, at 11:45 a.m. CT, live on ESPNU and WatchESPN.
Roster by Position -
GOALKEEPERS (3) : 1-Cody Cropper (Southampton FC; Maple Grove, Minn.), 12-Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Rosa, Calif.), 21-Zach Steffen (FC DELCO; Downington, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (7) : 13-Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), 3-Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Guadalajara; Riverside, Calif.), 5-Shane O'Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), 18-Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), 4-Caleb Stanko (SC Freiburg; Holly, Mich.), 14-Javan Torre (UCLA; Santa Monica, Calif.), 2-DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders; Seattle, Wash.)
MIDFIELDERS (5) : 16-Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; Plano, Texas), 10-Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), 8-Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), 15-Mikey Lopez (Sporting Kansas City; Mission, Texas), 6-Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; Gahanna, Ohio)
FORWARDS (6) : 20-Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), 17-Danny Garcia (North Carolina; Dallas, Texas), 7-Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.), 19-Alonso Hernandez (C.F. Monterrey; El Paso, Texas), 9-Mario Rodriguez (1. FC Kaiserslautern; North Hollywood, Calif.), 11-Jose Villarreal (LA Galaxy; Inglewood, Calif.)