When FC Dallas signed Heath Pearce last season, many felt the experienced international defender would help solidify the Toros defense and be a starter for seasons to come. However, as we’ve seen with many other players under head coach Schellas Hyndman, once you’re "off the bus" the door isn’t re-opening.
Hyndman and the team were not pleased with Pearce’s hamstring troubles that kept him out of Dallas’ run to the MLS Cup final. Hyndman even mentioned the situation earlier in the pre-season, saying the injury occurred because Pearce was doing extra, unnecessary work in practice. It then didn’t help when Pearce got injured in the first week of practice of the new season.
Pearce simply fell out of favor with Hyndman, and in Dallas that means you’ve got to go...unless you believe what the club says about the move being only about salary cap space. Either way, the team traded the United States international to Chivas USA and the defender gets a fresh start under new head coach Robin Fraser.
How does Pearce's skillset fit into his new team?
Pearce should fit in well at Chivas USA. Fraser and his coaching staff are a defensive-minded group, and getting Pearce along with Jimmy Conrad sends a clear message about what the team is trying to accomplish this season. Pearce gives Fraser a flexible outside back who can play on the left or the right and is capable of getting forward a bit.
What kind of impact can Pearce have on his team?
Pearce could have a tremendous impact for Chivas USA. You don’t get international caliber outside backs in trades all the time, especially after losing a player like Jonathan Bornstein. While I don’t feel Pearce can replace the offensive contributions of Bornstein, especially the goals, there’s no doubt he’s better defensively. Pearce should make Chivas better in the back but he won’t make up for the lost versatility that Bornstein provided them.
What's a reasonable expectation in terms of production and playing time?
Pearce will have to earn his place, but he’s certainly good enough to start. Between the allocation money Chivas USA gave up and his sizable salary, it’s hard to see him sitting on the bench. Pearce should start the majority of the team's matches this season if his mind is in the right place and he avoids more injuries.
What's the ceiling on Pearce?
All-Star selection? Several assist and/or goals? Defender of the Year? Pearce is good enough to accomplish any of these but his career has been plagued by what is starting to feel like chronic under achievement. If Pearce focuses and commits to playing hard, he can be on the best backs in MLS and put himself back in the mix for a spot on the U.S. National Team (but people have been saying that for years and we’re still waiting). It really feels like the only thing placing a ceiling on what Peace could accomplish is Pearce himself.
- Report by Zach "The Ginge" Woosley of Dynamo Theory