CARSON, Calif. — Chivas USA will be out for their third victory at home on Saturday against FC Dallas (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), but the match will carry added meaning for Heath Pearce.
The defender will take the pitch against FCD for the first time in league play since being traded to the Rojiblancos for allocation money during the preseason. The defender played a vital role in a Dallas back line that helped carry the club to the MLS Cup final in 2010.
Since the move, Pearce has been the one constant for a Chivas USA back line constantly in flux this season. The 26-year-old has provided extensive leadership for the backline all while learning the center back position — one which he had never played prior to joining Chivas. While Pearce has clearly found a home with the Goats, he doesn’t hesitate to admit that his year-and-a-half year stay in Dallas did not end well.
“Obviously, it was a bit hard," Pearce said on Thursdat. "My transition was made easy by the team here, but at the same time, it was a bit out of the blue. Prior to being traded, I was told by the staff that they had no intentions of trading me and that they plans to work me to sell me back to Europe — then two weeks later being traded. It was a pretty big shock, but that's the way the game goes. I'm settled in here and this is where my life is now.”
Pearce will once again wear the captain's armband for Chivas USA this weekend as the Rojiblancos will be without team captain Alejandro Moreno, who officially departed on international duty with Venezuela ahead of the Copa América tournament. With Moreno gone, it seems certain that Justin Braun will return to the starting lineup alongside the in-form Marcos Mondani, who has scored in two straight matches since returning from suspension.
Dallas arrive at the Home Depot Center having earned results in nine of their last 10 matches, going nine straight matches unbeaten prior to their 4-1 defeat at home last week to Sporting KC. With the poor performance still fresh in their minds, the Rojiblancos are expecting FCD to come into the HDC eager to earn a victory.
“I think that they'll be dissatisfied with their performance last week so they'll come in with a chip on their shoulder,” said Chivas USA coach Robin Fraser. “They’re an extremely talented and athletic team and you have to play well against them or suffer the consequences.”
While Pearce has no trouble admitting that although FC Dallas have changed greatly in the last year, several of his friends are still within the fold. However, these friendships will take a backseat for Pearce once the first whistle blows on Saturday.
"We were a close-knit team and that was one of the reasons that team was so successful last year, but this year, a lot of players have left,” said Pearce. "We were close and everyone was accountable for their job on the field. We spent a lot of time together off the field and I've got a lot of good friends there still, but all of that gets set aside on Saturday."
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano