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Friday, June 17, 2011
CHIVAS USA: Pearce takes on old 'mates

By Scott French

Heath Pearce has made an enormous impact on Chivas USA's backline this season, and it wouldn't have been possible if not for an odd falling out of sorts he experienced last year with FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman.

It occurred as the Hoops were preparing for its MLS Cup final in Toronto against Colorado, when Pearce, finally healthy after a month-long hamstring injury, was left off the active roster for the game and tweeted his frustration.

It led eventually to a mid-February trade -- an absolute steal for the Goats, who parted with allocation money to pick up the left-footed defender-- and lots of positives for Chivas, with Pearce turning in superb performances in the middle after moving from the flanks when injuries began hammering defensive depth.

He'll get a chance Saturday night to show Hyndman how big a mistake he made when FC Dallas (7-4-4) visits Home Depot Center to take on the Goats (4-5-4).

Hyndman this week said Pearce, among other contributors, was dealt to open roster and cap space so the Hoops could diversify their attack after falling to the Colorado Rapids in overtime in November's MLS Cup showdown.

“All moves are difficult moves when you’re dealing with people, characters and personalities,” Hyndman told reporters in Texas. “We as an organization felt it was the best move for us to be able to bring in a [Fabian] Castillo or somebody like a Castillo.

“You look at how well our defense has done up to now, you would say Castillo has helped, and our defense has survived. We don’t have the depth. You can’t continue to have very high-profile, expensive players and then leave another segment of your team not completed.”

Pearce was stunned by the trade, but he has been a terrific addition for the Goats and might be the team's MVP. He'll wear the captain's armband Saturday.

“Obviously, [the trade] was a bit hard,” Pearce told Major League Soccer's website this week. “My transition was made easy by the team here, but at the same time, it was a bit out of the blue. Prior to being traded, I was told by the staff that they had no intentions of trading me and that they plans to work me to sell me back to Europe -- then two weeks later being traded.

“It was a pretty big shock, but that's the way the game goes. I'm settled in here and this is where my life is now.”

Hyndman has been impressed with Pearce's play this year.

“For Heath, he’s doing well,” Hyndman said. “They’re turning that team. I think he might be captain of the team, so he’s having an opportunity to be a leader. For Heath, games like this are an opportunity for him to focus all his energy on beating FC Dallas.”

WORTH NOTING: Dallas is 4-3-1 against Chivas at Home Depot Center. … Alejandro Moreno is with Venezuela's national team for Copa America preparations, and the Goats don't expect to see him back until mid-July at the earliest, later if the Vinotinto advance from group play. They're in B, with Brazil, Paraguay and Ecuador, and two or three teams will advance to the quarterfinals. The title game, in Buenos Aires, is July 24. … Marcos Mondaini hasn't just scored in back-to-back games since returning from suspension, he's got three in his last four appearances. And the fourth was cut short by the red card for the foul that injured Real Salt Lake playmaker Javier Morales. … Rookie Zarek Valentin was getting time at left back in training this week, so he might be coming on again in place of Ante Jazic. Michael Lahoud clearly appears to be the first choice on the right.

MISSING: Moreno. … Jimmy Conrad (returning from concussion) remains, officially, doubtful.


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