Gringo Stateside: Heath Pearce

Columbus Crew v FC Dallas

FC Dallas 1 – New England Revolution 1

Major League Soccer May-1-2010

Favored FC Dallas couldn’t overcome a number of distinct advantages and only managed a tie with home-club New England.  The Revolution, missing their two best players (forward Taylor Twellman and midfielder Shalrie Joseph), were put at a further disadvantage in the second half after having two red cards issued against them.  Dallas, who dominated the match even before gaining numerical superiority, controlled all aspects except the scoreline.

The visitors found themselves down a goal after keeper Dario Sala committed a laughable gaffe – trying to let the ball roll out of play instead of clearing it – and essentially gave the ball to New England in front of an open net.  Dallas did manage to even the score off a free kick, but a few saves from New England’s Preston Burpo and two Dallas shots that bounced off the post held them to 1 point on the day.

American Performance

Of the Americans on the field, FC Dallas’ Heath Pearce has the bet shot at making the World Cup roster.  The left-footed Pearce, who has played for the US on 31 occasions, started at right back, and even though he feels more comfortable on the left, Pearce was instrumental in Dallas’ attack.  He began to get forward right after kickoff, earning a corner in the first minute, and seemed ever-present in New England’s half of the field.  Some of his crosses, however, were a bit off, and though he took a number of corners and free kicks, he never helped generate a shot on goal.  Still, he was a problem for New England’s defenders all game and made very few poor decisions when he had the ball.

On the other end, Pearce didn’t have much to do in defense.  New England’s offense was rather anemic, but the few times Pearce was called on to stop an attack he was up to the challenge.

He was subbed off in the 74th after being the victim of a vicious challenge: Pearce was tackled from behind and his right ankle caught at an awkward angle, but he did manage to walk off the pitch.

National Team Implications

Pearce is currently third on Bob Bradley’s left back pecking order (behind Carlos Bocanegra and Jonathan Bornstein).  While this game didn’t move him up the roster, a solid showing in an unfamiliar position may have increased his value. One of the reasons the other two are preferred is their versatility; both Bornstein and Bocanegra can play center back.  If Pearce continues to demonstrate he can play multiple positions (he has also played midfield for FC Dallas this season), Bradley will likely call him into the USA’s pre-World Cup training camp that starts May 15.

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