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Pearce uses versatility to earn U.S. call

FC Dallas fans, rejoice. One of your own is on the brink of reaching the World Cup.

Defender Heath Pearce was named to the U.S. preliminary 30-man roster on Tuesday, proof that his versatility and strength on the back line could be valuable assets to the Americans’ bid in South Africa next month.

Pearce, who is in his first full season with FCD after joining from German side Hansa Rostock, will report to the U.S. camp following the club’s matchup against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.

The U.S. training camp opens May 17 in Princeton, N.J. The final 23-man roster for South Africa is due June 1.

“My attitude was positive in the sense that I feel like I’m good enough to be there,” Pearce said. “I feel I’ve been playing well lately, but I really wasn’t thinking too much about it. It came up on me quickly.”

Pearce got the news following a morning practice, and said the decision caught him by surprise.

“I knew I was in the pool of it all but had no idea where I stood in that pool,” he said. “So it’s a great honor to be selected in the final 30 and I’m really excited about getting into camp.”

So far this season, Pearce has started at left back, right back, right mid and left mid. While some might think such versatility has hurt his chances with the national team, he sees it as a positive.

“I’ve been training at left back often,” Pearce said. “I’ve been training at other positions as well. I think it’s really given me a fresh perspective on left back as well as learning other positions on the field. I don’t know how they see it but it’s increased my soccer knowledge.”

No matter where he has lined up for FCD, he has become an integral part of the attack. On Saturday, he got the secondary assist on Jeff Cunningham’s game-winning goal in the second half against D.C. United.

“I think I’ve come into my own a little bit on the attacking side of things. I think playing in this style of play really plays to my strengths,” Pearce said.

For now, Pearce’s focus is on helping his club win, but considering how well FCD has been playing of late, it will be somewhat bittersweet for him to depart for several weeks.

“Obviously, I’ll be gone for those couple of weeks but I think FC Dallas has done really well,” Pearce said. “I feel I’ve helped contribute, but I also feel there are other guys who will be ready to step in and get the job done.”