MONTREAL – It was 20 minutes that helped Heath Pearce erase two years of pain.
With his early July hip surgery only a painful memory now, Pearce finally got to test drive the repairs Sunday as a 69th-minute substitute in the Montreal Impact’s 2-0 home defeat to the Seattle Sounders. It had been exactly nine months since he last played, in the New York Red Bulls’ 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union on June 23, 2013.
Sunday’s loss meant there were no explosions of joy, but Pearce could be forgiven for at least feeling satisfied that a long, arduous process back to fitness was wrapping up.
“It’s completely different,” Pearce told reporters on Thursday when asked about his hip. “I feel like, back then, there were times when I felt like I needed to cut corners just to survive. And I feel like, now, my body has just opened up, and it feels great. I feel young again. It’s a world of difference, and I’m happy to be healthy.”
No corners were cut last Sunday.
Pearce overlapped from his left-back position with purpose, called for the ball in a timely fashion, drove it into the box and forced Seattle into some desperate interventions. It made for an encouraging sight for the Montreal coaching staff.
“His ability to get forward on the left side, he’s a left-footed player, so he opens up the field, gets forward and defends well,” head coach Frank Klopas said when asked about Pearce’s contribution. “When he gets forward, his ability to get in good spots, even in the last game when he came in, Seattle was sitting back and we wanted to attack more out wide. He got in good spots, he got forward and he’s got a good delivery with his left foot.”
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And Pearce is ready, if called upon, to show more of that as Montreal take on Philadelphia at PPL Park on Saturday (4 pm ET; MLS Live).
“I feel good and hopefully I’ll get a chance this weekend to contribute and help the team get a result,” Pearce said.