The Fire Reserves defeated the Colorado Rapids 3-1 this morning in a match that featured the on-field return of injured defender Steven Kinney, an impressive effort from homegrown player Victor Pineda, some interesting positional changes, and appearances by players in the U-16 Academy program. Kinney, playing in his first competitive match since tearing his Achilles tendon in the last game of the 2010 season got the start at center back and had a good 60 minute run that included an assist and several long cross-field passes that found Victor Pineda in attack. "My legs felt like jello coming towards the end but the excitement of getting back out there was incredible," said Kinney after the match.
After playing exclusively at right back during his rookie year in 2010, Kinney was re-introduced to the reserve line up at half back for this match but the position is one he's familiar with. "I've been playing center back my whole life. I played through college and club there so it wasn't until I came to the Fire that they put me at right back," explained an excited Kinney who received applause from the bench upon leaving the match. ""It was good," he said of the ovation. "They've been waiting almost as long as I've been waiting, two years now almost."
The ball over the top of the Colorado defense that led to a Dominic Oduro goal and two long passes to Victor Pineda showed that Kinney has regained the strength in his legs, although he thinks there is still work to be done. "It felt good. The accuracy is a little off but the strength is there hitting it," he said. "I'm 100% body wise, now it's just a matter of getting game fitness and that's what these reserve games are all about."
Homegrown midfielder Victor Pineda showed some offensive skill and displayed his versatility by starting on the left, moving to the right, and finishing in the holding midfield spot during the course of the match. Pineda was composed and dangerous in the attack for most of the match and scored a pretty goal in the 79th minute. Taking a pass from Corben Bone, Pineda maneuvered around several Colorado defenders giving himself room to fire a well struck shot from inside the penalty area and past goalkeeper Steward Ceus into the back of the net.
The goal may help him earn some first team consideration but Pineda feels he can help with well rounded contributions on both sides of the pitch as he works to maintain full match fitness. "It (scoring) should help me just because that's the most important thing in the game but other than that I felt pretty comfortable that I had a pretty good game all around. Maybe just work a little bit more. It's kind of hard to work on my fitness just because I haven't been playing but that's the only thing that I struggled with today," said Pineda.
After spending two weeks with the USMNT U-20 squad at the Milk Cup, Pineda has resumed training with the first team but hasn't seen match action since July 26. "I got pretty much full games, 85 or 80 minutes but it's three games in ten days and I haven't played since then," he explained. His versatility should serve him well when it comes to possible playing time this season but he's currently sitting behind some talented players on match days in Marco Pappa, Alvaro Fernandez, Patrick Nyarko, Pavel Pardo, and Logan Pause. Pineda feels he can play any of the spots he featured in today but it seems the wing is where he's spent most of his recent time. "I guess I've been getting used to playing on the outside just because of the National team but growing up I always played in the middle so when I play in the middle it's not really a big deal for me. It's kind of the same thing. It's stuff I'm used to from the academy," said Pineda after the match.
Has the coaching staff indicated any first team playing time is around the corner? It's possible, given the injury to Pause but it seems to be a matter of time before he starts to crack the game day 18. "I just need to keep working and hopefully in the next couple games I'll make the roster," he said.
It's just a matter of time.
Academy players see action
Several U-16 Academy players saw playing time in this match and each one of them held their own. Substitutions and position switches are common in reserve games and this one was filled with changes for both squads. Midfielder Marcus Epps, forward Jeff Farina, centerback Grant Lillard, midfielder Brian Warchek all showed well for themselves.
The Fire's second homegrown player Kellen Gulley also saw some time in central midfield/withdrawn late in the game.
- Dominic Oduro tallied a goal and an assist in the match. An excellent cross found a charging Daniel Paladini for the Fire's first score in the 39th and he outraced and outmaneuvered the Colorado defense for a classic Oduro score in the 42nd.
- The Fire coaching staff experimented with several players in different positions throughout the match. The first eleven included Kinney and Mike Videira at half back with Dan Gargan and Hunter Jumper on the outside. Corben Bone and Alex started in the holding roles with Paladini as the central midfield attacker. This formation featured Tony Walls at right mid and Pineda on the left with Oduro up top.
- Alex left the match in the 38th minute with a left ankle knock that didn't appear to be serious. He said after the match that he was fine. Alex's departure placed Epps on the left and moved Pineda to the right with Paladini and Walls in the holding role and Bone moved to the advanced spot.
- After some more juggling Pineda finished the match in the dual holding position next to Walls.
- Orr Barouch scored his second international goal for the Israeli U-21 squad this morning against Russia.
- Marco Pappa is in DC for a Guatemalan National team friendly tonight.
- Sean Johnson is with the USMNT in Mexico.
Reserve Line Up and scoring summaryChicago Fire: Jay Nolly; Hunter Jumper, Michael Videira, Steven Kinney (Grant Lillard 60’), Dan Gargan; Victor Pineda, Alex (Marcus Epps 38’), Daniel Paladini (Brian Warchek 68’), Corben Bone (Kellen Gulley 77’), Tony Walls; Dominic Oduro (Jeff Farina 55’)
Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Shannon Seymour
COL – Andre Akpan (unassisted) 26’
CHI – Daniel Paladini (Dominic Oduro) 39’
CHI – Dominic Oduro (Steven Kinney) 42’
CHI – Victor Pineda (Corben Bone) 79’