Back when Amirgy Pineda was nine, he joined his first club with Cal South’s own Fullerton Rangers. The following year, he knew he wanted to become a professional. And that’s when the fun started for Pineda.

In his first year with the club, Pineda was exposed to a higher level of soccer than he was used to. However, that didn’t stop him and his team from being successful, reaching the Cal South State Cup Semifinals. The team, and Pineda, wouldn’t stop there. Soon enough, the Rangers and Pineda, were winning tournaments left and right, including two US Youth Soccer National Championships.

For Pineda, this also became his time to shine as he was playing with Cal South’s elite PRO+ Olympic Development Program (ODP) Team, as well as participating in Regional and National ODP Teams, often playing a year up.

“I knew [playing in Cal South] was very competitive and I knew that it was going to be very important for me,” Pineda reminisced. “I played club soccer for Cal South for 11 years. Steve Hoffman and Joey Hoffman, they trusted me a lot putting me with the older guys and trusting me to play with them in the competition, I think it was really great and I think that that’s where everything started; I started being more confident and knowing that I can compete with older guys.”

It was that confidence earned throughout playing in Cal South that allowed him to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a professional soccer player.

Pineda drew the attention of many including U.S. Soccer, who continuously called him up for the U15, U17, U18 and U20 Men’s National Teams. College and professional coaches knew the talent that Ami had, but it was United Soccer League’s (USL) Orange County Soccer Club that took a chance on Pineda. In his first year with the club, Pineda has started in six of ten games played, helping the team in the best way he can to a 7-4-4 (W-L-T) record so far in this season.

“Honestly, it’s been a great experience for me,” he said on OCSC. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else for my first year. I’m young, so going away is harder. Being here is a great experience and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

For Pineda, why be anywhere else than a home crowd that includes an extremely supportive group of family, friends, former teachers and counselors?

“My dad is the one that’s always screaming, getting the crowd going,” Pineda says with a smile. “It’s a great experience because as a little kid, he always wanted to see me play professionally and now to actually be able to see me here in Orange County it’s great. To be able to look to the stands, see my dad, my brothers, my mom, it’s just the best thing ever.”

You can catch local talent Ami Pineda and other fellow Cal South players when Orange County SC takes the field against Didier Drogba, Omar Bravo and the Phoenix Rising FC on Friday, August 18 at 7:30 pm at the all-new Championship Soccer Stadium at Orange County Great Park. Click here for ticket information!