Pearce moves past World Cup disappointment

Defender puts snub behind him, re-focused on helping club

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Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Heath Pearce admits the last week has been one of the toughest of his life. Last week, he learned he would not be among the 23 players traveling to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa as part of Bob Bradley’s United States squad.

Upon learning he wasn’t going to South Africa, the FC Dallas defender/midfielder called head coach Schellas Hyndman. FCD had a match at Chicago the following night and Pearce wanted to see what his chances were of playing.

“He expressed a concern for where my head is at, which is completely understandable,” Pearce said by phone on Monday, his first interview since he learned he wasn’t heading to the World Cup. “Would I have been able to, in that short of a time, been able to put in a 90-minute shift? I’d like to think so, but I can admit that I’ve got a bitter taste in my mouth.”

The versatile FCD starter, who has started for Hyndman at three different positions so far in 2010, remembers the conversation with his club coach being very positive.

“He said, ‘We’re going to get you back in the game and get you back in the mix of things because that’s what’s best,’” Pearce recalls. “It was a positive conversation. All the fans and my teammates, they’ve all been really supportive during this time. Had they not, the world can become a pretty lonely place.”

Pearce has played nine games this season for Dallas (eight of them starts) and is tied for second on the club with two assists. On Thursday night at Toyota Park, he was a sub for the first time in 2010, entering the game in the 70th minute for a struggling Jeff Cunningham. It was an adjustment he was glad to make.

“Obviously, it’s nice to just kind of get on with life,” Pearce said. “I tell myself [that] in what I feel is one of the most difficult times in my life to not make that team. The only real cure or remedy for it is to continue playing the game I love. It was a tough day. All I really wanted to do was get back out on the field with my teammates and play the game.”

Pearce admits that moment when Hyndman told him to warm up before entering the game was somewhat of a wakeup call.

“It was kind of that thing that kind of jolts you and wakes you back up again,” Pearce said. “When they called me over that I was going in, it was kind of like a reality check that life rolls on. Sometimes you’ve got to roll with the punches and keep the idea that everything happens for a reason.”

And true to form, he offered an objective assessment of his performance in those final 20 minutes of what proved to be a 1-1 draw with the Men in Red.

“I did my best,” Pearce said. “It was a short amount of time and I feel like I could’ve done better in a few situations. But it was really nice to be out there with the guys and with a team that really put me back in the national team picture in the first place.”

He certainly isn’t the only player hoping to make the final U.S. roster to be disappointed with how things turned out. In fact, the FCD starter has talked with several of his colleagues who also currently play in MLS and are experiencing a similar sense of disappointment.

“I’ve had conversations with Sacha Klejstan and Robbie Rogers,” Pearce said. “There’s not a lot that any of us can say to each other. Everybody is kind of taking their distant space and using what they have around them to get through this difficult time.”

Read more: FCD defender's World Cup journey by the numbers