photo by ISIphotos.com
Heath Pearce looked to be the solution to the U.S. national team's problematic left back situation in 2008, but that was before a drop in form saw him fall out of favor with head coach Bob Bradley last year. That demotion looks to have lit a spark under Pearce, who enjoyed one of his finer performances in recent memory in the U.S.'s 2-1 victory over El Salvador.
Pearce had not started (nor played in a match) at the international level since the 2009 Gold Cup final, but that did not stop him from being one of the top U.S. players at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Wednesday night. Throughout the game, the FC Dallas defender, who earned a surprise start with usual left back Jonathan Bornstein playing centrally, showed glimpses of why he was once considered an automatic starter.
Defensively, Pearce was solid and his positioning was good, although, to be fair, El Salvador's right side looked to be one of the team's many weaknesses on the night.
On the offensive side, Pearce connected with most of his passes, got forward well and even showed off some moves when he juked defender Alexander Escobar in the first half. Pearce also provided a few dangerous crosses, including one which Brian Ching thundered home with a diving header in the 75th minute to pull the score level at 1-1.
"Heath played a couple good balls [tonight]," said Ching. "I knew he was going to get the ball across so I just tried to put myself in a good position"
Pearce wasn't as convinced by the cross when it left his foot.
"When I crossed it to him, when I looked up I thought it that it had hit the outside of the side netting, so I didn't know it went in until he started celebrating," said Pearce. "It was a relief."
A bigger relief for the United States was Sacha Kljestan's 92nd minute goal, which gave the hosts a 2-1 victory in front of the 21,737 fans in attendance, and ended a four game winless streak.
"We have had a rough stretch as a group here in terms of our recent results with the national team," said Pearce. "So it is nice to get a win."
The win will surely be even nicer for Pearce if it ends up being the game which put him back in contention for a World Cup spot.
What did you think of Pearce's performance? What are the odds he makes the World Cup team? Hoping to see him called up against the Netherlands?
Share your thoughts below.
Yaa Pearce shines in first start since 2009 Gold Cup,really superb,no doubt on that,interesting.
Pearce definitely had a good game. But that said, one good game against El Salvador does not trump Bornstein’s recent string of solid starts. To me Pearce is still on the bubble, maybe just in as the last defender – I rank him about 8th on the defender depth chart:
I agree with Ives, Pearce’s play stood out in a pretty mediocre game. As many posters have pointed out, El Salvador isn’t much of a test, but I’ve always thought Pearce had a much higher upside than Bornstein, though his bad games have been awful. If he can mature into a more solid player, like the one we saw last night, I think he can be a USMNT contributor. I like his pace and attacking sense. His defending has always been inconsistent, but he seemed to make good judgments this game. Hopefully he’ll get a final look from Bradley before the 23 are decided. I’m thinking he’ll be an alternate as insurance for Bornstein and Spector.
El Salvador offered NOTHING in attack, only scoring through a major defensive mistake. Point is the US defense was under ZERO pressure for the majority of the game so it’s no surprise that Pearce, Gaven, Kljestan, Rogers, etc. were able to play so much of the match in ES territory. Even then they made themselves look pedestrian.
Friendlies are useless for discerning potential, doubly so when against El Salvador.
Looking forward to possible call ups for the Neitherlands match:
Subs: Pearce (LB), Goodson (CD), Castillo (LW), Edu (DM), Holden (RM), Ching (St).
Based on last nights performances only Goodson, Pearce, and Ching performed well enough to warrant a call-up for a match against a tougher opponent. Hopefully then we can see if it was their ability or the lack of opposition from El Salvador.
Would have liked to have included some of the other players in Europe…but Clark is just reciently back from injury and needs time with his club in order to win PT. Dempsey’s still injured, Jones is still MIA, and Gooch’s still injured too. Wish I could include Bedoya…but maybe he can attend camp for training and prep for the next WC Cycle. Same for Adu.
i can see what your saying, but do you not remember about a year ago when Pearce was the clear cut choice for Bradley at left back?
why was el slavador half inspired??
OLE OLE OLE OLE, USA USA!!
Very true and I did think abuot those performances when I wrote. However, they were two years ago and he hasn’t really done that in a big game since. In fact he seemed to languish them in 2009. Therefore I need to see him do it again now….So I guess it would be interesting to see him get the start in Netherlands, though I’m still not sure if he is ready to start over Bocanegra and Bornstein and spector in SA.