SEATTLE – The first giveaway that Gonzalo Pineda has moved away from the field wasn’t the partition at CenturyLink Field on Monday, separating players from media members and curious onlookers on the eve of the team’s first game of 2016.
That very visible line didn’t bother Pineda. He mingled on both sides of the barrier with ease, conversing with Seattle Sounders players and coaches as well as those gathered for the club’s annual media day.
The real indication that Pineda has moved on from his two-year stint as a beloved Sounders fixture in the midfield? The clothes. While his friends and former teammates worked out less than 24 hours before a showdown against Club América, Pineda donned a coat and tie on Monday to conduct business as one of the new faces for Univision Deportes, the Spanish-language broadcasting giant based in Miami. Pineda signed a three-year deal with UDN in December.
The 33-year-old Pineda spoke with SoundersFC.com about a number of topics, including his retirement from the game in December, his itch to return as a coach and why the Sounders need a win on Tuesday night (7 p.m. PT; FS1/Univision Deportes/KIRO 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360 AM).
SoundersFC.com: Can you take us through what the last couple of months have been like, making the transition to a new career in broadcasting?
Pineda: It’s been pretty good. It’s been a big transition, and a big deal. It’s a big change for me and my family, moving to the other side of the country, but I’m still involved with soccer, which I love. It was a great opportunity for me and my family.
SoundersFC.com: What was the decision-making process like for you at the end of last season, and what ultimately led you to the job with Univision Deportes?
Pineda: I had some options, between coaching and Univision. But I decided for Univision because it was more long-term for my family, which is what I was looking for when I announced my retirement. My kids have known something like seven different cities in their lives, and my daughter is six years old. That’s too much. So I was looking out for the well-being of my family.
SoundersFC.com: What’s been the hardest part about transitioning to career in television?
Pineda: It’s not easy. It’s pretty different. But it’s probably the idea that I have to switch in my mind that I’m not a player anymore. That’s hard, because sometimes when I do interviews with friends who were my teammates, I look a little nervous. I don’t know – I still think as a player, and I need to think as a commentator. That’s different, but I’ll get used to it.
SoundersFC.com: If you were to say anything critical about a former teammate on-air, do you think you would get a text message from him?
Pineda: Maybe (laughs). I try to be very soft with that, because I know how hard it is to be in the field. There’s nothing personal, because I know how hard it is to be a professional athlete.
SoundersFC.com: Do you still see yourself as a coach one day?
Pineda: Of course. I’m trying to prepare with doing some coaching clinics, and I’m getting my "A" license. I’ll do that this year. The long-term for my future will be coaching, for sure.
SoundersFCcom: As you watch the Sounders players out here today, do you feel anxious or an itch to play again?
Pineda: A little bit, of course. Every morning it’s hard not to take my little bag and go to training. That part is really hard, for sure. Everyday I feel the same emotion. But it’s okay. I had a really good career and I’m very proud of that. And all of this is for the wellness of my family.
SoundersFC.com: And your body…
Pineda: Yes! Right now I feel better than a year ago, when I had a lot of issues with my ankle and everything. That’s getting better, and I want to be healthy when I’m 50 or 60 years old.
SoundersFC.com: Were you dealing with a lot of pain last year?
Pineda: Yes. I had a little bone bruise from three years ago up until now, and it was a little painful. But it’s getting better.
SoundersFC.com: What kind of game do you see Tuesday night between Seattle and Club América?
Pineda: I see a very even game. I think both teams have great players. Sometimes in Mexico they don’t know about the Sounders, they don’t know about Nelson Valdez, Clint Dempsey or Andreas Ivanschitz. These are top-class players.
And Club América is probably a little tired for this game, because they played last Saturday and it was a tough, really hard game against Cruz Azul. And the Sounders looked pretty good the last game against the Galaxy, so tomorrow is the day for the Sounders to take advantage of that and maybe score a lot of goals.
SoundersFC.com: And that would help, considering the second game is in Estadio Azteca…
Pineda: Everybody knows Azteca is a really hard place to play. For sure, the only chance the Sounders have to beat Club América is here at CenturyLink Field, because it’s also a really tough place to play. I think the Sounders have to do that tomorrow.