CARSON, CA - JUNE 04: Heath Pearce #3 of Chivas USA looking to continue the tradition of Goats on the US National team (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
2008 saw Heath Pearce as the most capped players on the national team with 11 appearances. 7 of those coming during the first 7 World Cup Qualifiers and all as a starter. The future looked bright for Pearce as the Left Back of the future as 2009 kicked off. With that, so too did the CONCACAF Hexagonal (aka the Final round of World Cup Qualifying). Up first in qualifying was a familiar opponent in a familiar setting. Mexico in Columbus, Ohio. Pearce would go the full 90 as he and the US would win the day by the all too familiar scoreline of 2-0.The following month saw the script flipped as the US travelled down to El Salvador for the next World Cup Qualifier. Where many had predicted a cakewalk for the US, they found themselves down 1-0, 15 minutes into the match. The US looked outplayed throughout long stretches of the match and would eventually go down 2-0 with less than 20 minutes remaining.
Even though they were able to mount a comeback and finish at 2-2, the match itself had left a bad mark on the defensive line. Particularly on Peace, who was dropped from the starting lineup. While he would eventually make the roster for that years Confederations Cup team, he did not see a second of action as the US went on to finish 2nd in the tournament.
With the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup that immediately followed the Confederations Cup, Pearce was thrown a lifeline to get back on the 1st team. With most of the US 1st team was given time off and as he was well rested to begin with, he was named to the roster for the tournament where he would participate in 5 out of 6 matches as a starter on route to the Final. Unfortunately, the Gold Cup Final was marred in a devastating 5-0 loss to Mexico. Pearce would go on to sit out the rest of the year following that performance.
After the US had secured its qualification in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it was time to solidify the right 23 men to make the trip to South Africa. If Pearce was to make a statement and give Bob Bradley a reason to pick him, it would have to be soon as the US would only schedule 4 friendlies before selecting the team.
Up first was Honduras at the Home Depot Center. If not for a Jimmy Conrad red card early on, the match might have had a different outcome. However, 10 vs. 11 (while unfortunate) gives the coach a chance see how players deal with added pressure. And while not a starter, Pearce did come in during the second half. But with the US down 3-0, and Honduras content with the result, there was not much to do on defense.
A month later against El Salvador though, Pearce played the entire match at left back and was very active on offense. Setting up players throughout the course of the match, his precise cross in the 75th minute found Brian Ching for the equalizer (the US was down 1-0). His efforts on the day earned him a trip to Holland the following week with the 1st team to take on the Netherlands. However he only came on in the last 20 minutes with the US down 2-0 (the US would lose 2-1). While his play during the MLS regular season got him on the 30-man preliminary roster for the World Cup, he was one of the 7 dropped when the official 23-man roster was submitted to FIFA (interestingly enough two former Goats made the roster). A recall in October of last year saw him go 45 minutes in a scoreless draw vs. Colombia.
With that, it seemed Pearce might have seen his last camp. But with a new coach for the US National team in Jürgen Klinsmann looking for different ideas in defense, Pearce saw himself recalled to the fray for the first time in nearly a year. And while he didn't get on to the field in the recent 1-1 draw vs. Mexico, he was able to display his abilities to the new coach first hand.
"I think if you asked every player here, they'd have an interest of playing for the national team," stated Pearce on mlssoccer.com. "Obviously, Klinsmann is an accomplished player and coach as well so he'll be a great addition to US Soccer, and there is potential to do great things under him."