CARSON, Calif. — Heath Pearce’s exploits for club and country have given the defender reason to be feeling pretty confident at the moment.
By completing a successful transition from left back to center back for Chivas USA, Pearce was able to make his return to United States national team after a nearly a year’s absence. Called up by new US coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the veteran defender was an unused substitute during the 1-1 draw against Mexico last week.
After experiencing the first camp under Klinsmann, Pearce admitted the new USMNT coach brought an “unspoken excitement” to the national team.
“Jurgen was really positive with everybody, motivating and supporting everyone, but still realistic in the same sense,” said Pearce. “My focus is now on Chivas and getting results so hopefully my play with Chivas will warrant more call-ups with the national team.”
Pearce appeared as steady as ever during Chivas USA's 0-0 draw against the Seattle Sounders last weekend. Anchoring the Goats defense, Pearce made a number of key tackles that prevented the Sounders from generating scoring chances and breaking the deadlock.
The Chivas USA center back may not have seen time on the field against Mexico, but he received a great deal of support from his head coach, Robin Fraser, who earned 27 caps for the USMNT. After Pearce returned to practice with the club, his coach had an idea what his player was going through in Philadelphia.
“It’s funny because when you get called into the national team and don’t play, you have the feelings of a sub,” Fraser joked. “You’re one of the top 22 players in the entire country, and you’ve still got this feeling that, ‘Gosh, I’m a sub,’ so it’s a really interesting mentality going into the national team.”
All joking aside, Fraser stated that he firmly believes that Pearce’s stint with the Yanks will only serve to help motivate the 27-year-old as he looks to anchor the Chivas USA back line to a playoff appearance.
“The bottom line is that he’s earned the opportunity to be there and he’s earned it with very good play all year long,” Fraser added. “In this time period, he’s learned what it means to be a good center back and it’s been an on the job learning process that he’s taken so well to that I think he’s got a lot of confidence now.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano