Plainfield East alum Mauricio Pineda called up to U.S. soccer’s U-23 olympic qualifying roster

The Chicago Fire defender is trying to help the U.S. squad make its first Olympic tournament since 2008

The Chicago Fire’s Mauricio Pineda, a Plainfield East graduate from Bolingbrook, was one of the players recently called up to play on the U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team roster.

Pineda was part of the training camp ahead of the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship and has been with the U.S. U-23 national team in Guadalajara, Mexico since Feb. 28, according to a news release.

The tournament will determine which nations from North America, Central America and the Caribbean will represent the region in the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. The U.S. is aiming to qualify for its first Men’s Olympic Football Tournament since 2008.

He was one of six members of the qualifying roster who were part of the senior USMNT’s 7-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in January.

The U.S. U-23 team fell 1-0 to Mexico last Wednesday, but the Americans had already secured advancement to the tournament semifinals. Pineda played in the match and even slide-tackled Mexico’s Manuel Mayorga in time to prevent a shot from about 12 yards out from goal, according to the national team.

Pineda signed last year as a “homegrown player” with the Chicago Fire and played in 23 matches for a team-leading 2,022 minutes. He also contributed three goals and two assists during his rookie season.

He played college soccer at the University of North Carolina where he was the team’s captain and played in all 79 of his team’s matches.

During his senior season at UNC, he started all 18 matches, scored five goals, and earned First-Team All-ACC Selection honors.

The Chicago Fire will begin its 2021 season at home against the New England Revolution on April 17.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.