Heath Pearce has made his return to the national team after a year-long hiatus, and with a little hard work, he’s hoping to once again become a regular for the United States.
In what came as a surprise to Pearce, the Chivas USA defender was called up by newly-appointed US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann for Wednesday’s match against Mexico (9 pm ET, ESPN2, Univisión). Pearce has been a staple for in the Chivas back line, as he is the only player to play every minute for the Rojiblancos in 2011.
Although Pearce has been successful this season, he admits that the call-up came as a bit of a shock.
“I hadn't heard anything so I figured that this wouldn't be my camp,” Pearce told MLSsoccer.com in a phone call over the weekend. “Then I got into the car and saw that I had a voicemail from coach Klinsmann.”
The humble defender has shined for Chivas USA this season, despite undergoing a great deal of transition. Starting the year as a left back, several injuries forced head coach Robin Fraser to reshuffle the back four and ultimately move Pearce into central defense. Pearce’s solid play at center back was even rewarded with an MLS All-Star Game selection, the second of his career.
During his time with the national team, Pearce has played primarily at left back and will presumably return to the position under Klinsmann. That said, it is certainly not of the question for Pearce to follow the example of current US captain Carlos Bocanegra, who moved from his natural left back position to central defense with the national team. However, for the 26-year-old defender, the position doesn’t matter—he’s just hoping to contribute.
“I think my versatility that I've played both center back and outside back helps at a good level,” said Pearce. “I think I have an ability to attack if I'm playing outside back [and] hopefully I can go out there and show that."
Pearce hopes to rejuvenate his national team career in Philadelphia, which is less than an hour away from PPL Park where he earned his last cap with the US in a match against Columbia last October. Standing in his way is a formidable Mexico side that boasts several of its Gold Cup stars.
If Pearce participates in the friendly, it will be the Chivas defender’s third appearance against Mexico. After the way that his teammates were defeated by El Tri in the Gold Cup Final, Pearce is focused on gaining some retribution.
“It's a huge rivalry and I think that the US wants some revenge from the Gold Cup Final,” Pearce added. “We want to go out there and put together a good game.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano