Pearce a valuable asset for transitional Chivas USA group

Fraser praises defender's skills, character after trade completed

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – The news that Heath Pearce had been traded to Chivas USA surfaced pretty quickly on Tuesday, and Pearce’s new team was busy battling Real Salt Lake in a scrimmage when the final confirmation came down.

But it might be safe to say this has been in Robin Fraser’s plans for quite a while, since long before he became a head coach.

“If by ‘awhile,’ you mean two or three years, probably,” the new Goats boss joked to MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday’s game. “[Pearce is] a player that I didn’t know very well before he came to the league, but once he got into the league and I saw him playing with Dallas, he’s a player I’ve admired a lot from the beginning.”

Coming from one of the best defenders in MLS history during his own playing days, that’s a pretty nice compliment. With his own 10-year MLS career and time with the US national team, Fraser points to Pearce’s experience in Denmark and Germany and with the USMNT as something his young team can make good use of during the transitional period.

Pearce joined MLS in September 2009 after a four-year career in Europe, but he quickly established himself as a key part of Schellas Hyndman’s FC Dallas team, especially in its run to MLS Cup last season.

“I think he’s an incredible defending outside back. He’s got great pace and he gets forward very well, and he’s very mature and experienced,” Fraser said. “You look at trying to build a young team, you want to get players like that. I think he’s a big pickup for us.”

Fraser is quick to point out that “no one is assured of a starting spot,” but Pearce should immediately push for either wingback position in the Chivas USA lineup – those have been mostly occupied in preseason camp by Ante Jazic on the left and rookie Zarek Valentin on the right. Pearce has played in both spots for both club and country.

“I’m confident that he’s going to come in and show well and work hard,” Fraser said. “Everything I’ve heard about him is that he’s a first-class guy, and that’s another big addition for us.”