George Pineda, 17, joins Park City Red Wolves Soccer Club
The Park City Red Wolves Soccer Club pulled players from around Utah and the world to form the fledgling USL League 2 team, which played its first home game on Saturday at Dozier Field.
But its youngest player had perhaps the shortest commute to the game.
Park City High School junior George Pineda has lived in Park City with his family since he was four years old, and recently finished a season with the Miners soccer team before surviving three rounds of tryouts to join the Red Wolves this spring.
On Saturday, the 17-year-old earned minutes as a central midfielder toward the tail end of the game.
Pineda said playing on the same field as his high school team felt different with the Red Wolves, but not that different.
“It’s still the same home field I’m used to,” he said after the game, looking over Dozier Field. “It feels really good to be out here.”
He played central midfield for the Miners, too, but the Red Wolves have a different skillset.
“We’re efficient when we’re on the attack,” Pineda said. “We’re really good at moving the ball from side to side; good at touching the ball, and I guess that’s how it’s done.”
Pineda first started playing at the age of 2, when his father, also named George, would gently pass the ball to him.
“I was barely able to walk,” Pineda said. “Ever since then I’ve fallen in love with the game.”
He and his father have continued to train together, but the younger Pineda, who goes by Georgie, has also played for club teams in Salt Lake City and for the Park City Soccer Club.
Red Wolves owner Bob Martino praised Pineda’s skill before Saturday’s game.
“You watch him at the high school games and you can tell he’s a really good player out there,” Martino said. “He kind of plays at that level but still a real standout. Then you see him at this level and these guys are exceptional and he rises right to it. He’s fantastic out there.”
The respect is mutual.
“I’m really grateful and I’m excited,” Pineda said.
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.