CARSON, Calif. – Heath Pearce joined a new team and learned a new position in 2011, but in 2012, he's hoping for a return to the playoffs with Chivas USA.
Playing his first full season as a center back, Pearce excelled and quickly became the leader of the Chivas back line, appearing in 30 games for the Rojiblancos. His contributions did not go unrecognized, as Pearce was awarded his second straight MLS All-Star selection and worked his way to a call-up with the US national team in September.
But a freak right hamstring injury in late August cost him his chance to represent the US and forced him to miss four key club matches in September and October. Although injuries put a damper on the end of the season, Pearce believes that Chivas can return next season and make a run to the postseason
“We've made strides in terms of the system that we want to play and there's a lot of potential, we came a long way from the way that we came into the beginning of the season,” Pearce told MLSsoccer.com.
“Overall, for me personally, though, I needed to stay fit through the whole season and we need to make the playoffs. From that aspect, it's disappointing, but from the other aspects, the last few weeks have been competitive and not making the playoffs leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.
“Hopefully we come back next year with a little more will and demand from each other and accomplish what we're going for.”
Goats end year with scrimmage win
Chivas USA finished 2011 with a victory, as the Rojiblancos defeated USL-PRO side LA Blues 2-1 on Friday in their final session together this year. Ben Zemanski, Juan Pablo Ángel and Justin Braun tallied for Chivas, who will now close down training until mid-January.
With the team returning to the field just after the 2012 MLS Super Draft, which takes place on Jan. 12, head coach Robin Fraser admits that the offseason transfers will likely affect what Chivas look for in the draft.
“Acquisitions will shape that somewhat,” Fraser said. “It'll depend on what happens in the offseason and what we're looking at by then.
“Certainly there might be players, who are better for certain positions in the draft and there might be better players, who are just better players,” Fraser added. “A lot of that will depend on how things shake out in the next couple of months.”
Fraser heads to South America
Chivas USA have been in the midst of searching for future additions, and the search has apparently taken the Rojiblancos to South America.
Following Chivas USA's final practice session, Fraser admitted that he traveled to Ecuador and Peru, “among other places” as part of a recent scouting mission.
Although this trip may or may not lead to a player acquisition, the offseason goal for the Rojiblancos is a simple one: continue to develop and improve.
“Our plan is to continue to improve the team,” Fraser told reporters last Friday. “We need to continue to look to add pieces. We're pretty far down the road in terms of some good ideas about players to get, but certainly this off season for us is about trying to identify and secure players we feel can help us.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.