U.S. Youth International Benji Joya joins Frank Yallop’s Chicago Fire on a one-year loan from Santos Laguna with an option to transfer. Per league and team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Benji is a talented, young player,” Yallop said of the signing. “He has international experience and will be a great addition as we continue to build and strengthen our squad.”
Joya served as team captain during the semifinal and final run of the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, where the U.S. finished second in the region and qualified for the 2014 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey. Joya started both matches in which he appeared in the tournament. As a member of Santos Laguna, Joya made four Liga MX appearances and two Copa MX appearances.
Name: Héctor Benjamín Joya
Weight: 145 lbs
Born: Sept. 22, 1993
Hometown: San Jose, Calif.
Acquired: Acquired via weighted lottery on Feb. 5, 2014
Last Club: Club Santos Laguna (Mexico)
Meanwhile, homegrown player Victor Pineda is ready to shine under a new boss. After a solid preseason camp, Pineda was singled out for his potential and ability.
“It’s only four days,” Yallop told Chicago-Fire.com’s Jeff Crandall. “I don’t want to jump the gun by saying who’s doing great but Victor has done well in the (small sided) games that we’ve had. He’s the one that stood out (among the young players).”
“Personally I came in sharp and well prepared,” Pineda told Chicago-Fire.com. “I played well, I tried to keep it simple and [Frank] was probably impressed with the work ethic I’d been putting into every session and I’ve felt pretty sharp with the ball.
“Since that first day I talked to Frank I knew I had to come in prepared and I took the offseason well. I got ready on my own and like I said I was just excited for this new opportunity. It’s a new start and at this point I think I deserve it. I’ve worked really hard in the past and it just hasn’t gone my way but I’m really excited for this year.”
“He’s a guy that’s been around for a few years now. He’s still very young but being around the team for that long has really developed him,” midfielder Patrick Nyarko said of Pineda. “All the guys speak highly of him – they know what he’s capable of in training and it’s just unfortunate that he hasn’t gotten his chance yet.
“It’s been a great first week so far and I expect him to get better. I personally think he’s going to play a part in the team this year.”