MONTREAL – Heath Pearce is a man at peace.
The goings-on of Pearce’s last two seasons were largely shaped by the torn labrum in his hip, which hurt his well-being and performances during his stay with the New York Red Bulls, the Montreal Impact’s opponents this Saturday at the Olympic Stadium (4 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS Live in the US).
Sacrificing a half-year of soccer for long-term health may not have delighted the New York front office, who parted ways with Pearce in November but the player showed no bitterness on Tuesday. Pearce handled the media’s questions on his last team serenely, saying he has no chip on his shoulder.
“My contract was up and I had an elective surgery halfway through the season, so that’s always tough for an organization to accept – they’d rather you probably just fall down and have the injury on the spot and have to fix it,” Pearce told reporters. “But sometimes, in life, you kind of have to look out for yourself and your own career once in a while, so that was the decision I made. How they reacted, or how they worded things, I don’t really care.”
After last Saturday’s comeback 1-1 draw in Philadelphia, which he thought was encouraging from a fitness standpoint, Pearce hopes to contribute against the Red Bulls, a “team of difference-makers” where he still has several close friends – though a number of those difference-makers won’t step on the Big O’s artificial turf.
“I’m excited to be playing against them with this group of guys which I think is working really hard and coming along, and we’re expecting three points this weekend,” Pearce said.
Likewise, Pearce’s teammates are raring to go as they reach for their first win of the season.
“It certainly means a lot to him,” goalkeeper Troy Perkins told reporters. “He’s an honest guy, he puts in a lot of work, he’s stepped in, trying to be a leader with us as a group, and I think we owe it to him to get three points for him.”