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Victor Pineda will see first game action for the Fire in Saturday’s friendly

Very few, if any, professional athletes live at their familial home — most relishing the opportunity to move out on their own.

But Fire midfielder Victor Pineda is the exception. He considers himself fortunate to still live with his family, saying many of his teammates get homesick. Pineda drives his brother and sister to school, attends their extracurricular activities and helps around the house.

It makes the 19-year-old seem all too ordinary for someone considered one of the brightest young soccer stars in the country.

This summer, Pineda has been a staple on the United States’ Under-20 team, scoring a goal in a 4-1 win over Chile in Northern Ireland at the Milk Cup on July 26.

With the Fire in a heated playoff race, the young Pineda hasn’t seen any game action this season. Lately, though, he has been selected as part of the 18-man gameday roster and is certain to see action in Saturday’s friendly against Santos Laguna at Toyota Park according to head coach Frank Klopas.

“He’s matured a lot,” Klopas said. “Physically he’s gotten a lot stronger. I think that he’s a guy now that even towards the end now but a guy for next year that we’re going to be counting on and will be a good player for the club for the future.”

As a member of national teams since he was 16 and as a star in the Fire academy, Pineda has been used to starting and seeing heavy minutes. He was the first homegrown player signed by the Fire first team.

Playing in only reserve games and getting most of his action in practice this season has been an adjustment for Pineda.

“It was difficult, well it still is,” Pineda said. “At first it was so hard to adjust. On every team I’ve played for earlier in my career, I’ve either started or got a lot of playing time and I felt like all that has made me more patient. I wasn’t very good at waiting before that but I think it’s making me stronger mentally.”

That has helped Pineda as he’s worked to gain the trust of his teammates.

“[I want to be] a player that my teammates can count on,” Pineda said. “And getting more aggressive to get up the field when our team does have the ball and I think I’ll be fine.”

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