New York Red Bulls defender Heath Pearce reached the 100 games played mark in Saturday’s 4-1 win over the New England Revolution. We caught up with him following a recent training session at Montclair State University to chat with him about the milestone and the path of his professional career up until this point.
100 games. Must feel pretty nice to reach that point in your career.
Yeah you know it’s obviously a great milestone for me. I had no idea that I was close to 100 until the team’s PR department told me. These last two weeks for me were the first two games I haven’t started that weren’t as a result of coming back from injury or other things, so it’s been a good ride for me so far and hopefully I can continue my career for a long time.
You mentioned on Twitter Tuesday about your first game in Germany being against Bayern while watching the Bayern Munich vs. Barcelona match. That was obviously a few years ago, but what do you remember from that?
Pearce's First MLS Goal
Well I came into the league with newly-promoted Hansa Rostock and we opened up our first league game away to Bayern Munich, which is no better game to start your Bundesliga career then against the giants. Stuttgart was the champions the year before, so Bayern had a lot of pressure on them and they came out – and there were a few goalkeeping errors for their goals, but I think we handled them well. I’d say it was a great experience for me to come out there and play against, an open my Bundesliga account, against the eventual champions.
Different teams there personnel wise since you played, but what did you see in that match against Barcelona Tuesday?
I mean, they’re the big team in Germany. Obviously they’re expected to win the trophy every year, and when they don’t it’s considered a failure. You have those kind of expectations you tend to have a pretty good squad and just year after year they’re an efficient team that does really well. They’re always knocking on the door, not just for the German league, but also for the national team. It’s the efficient style that they play. It was a fun thing to watch. Everybody always talks about Barcelona and how pretty they play, but to see a team like Bayern Munich kind of put their stamp on the game and in the way that they did with the score line that they did is a pretty cool thing.
Let’s spin it back to MLS now. So after debuting internationally in Denmark and playing in the German Bundisliga, you come home to MLS and debut with FC Dallas. What do you remember from your first MLS game?
I think I was only here for a few days when we had our first game ... We were winning against Kansas City and Kansas City ended up losing that game. I think I played the last 20 minutes or something of that game. And then we had to win the last five, win them out to make the playoffs, and we ended up winning four, going up one-nil against Seattle and ended up losing that game and not making the playoffs. But my first game was away in Kansas City on that baseball field and it was just a nice feeling to be back close to my family again. It had been five years at that point since they’d been able to see me play outside of national team games, and I was happy to be home. Even though Dallas wasn’t home, it became a home for me just being back in the U.S.
And then Chivas after that. A chance to return home to the West Coast. What was it like debuting for them?
It was great. Obviously that debut was in front of my family, actually in front of my family, and not just on TV. So it was great to have my family around and my siblings as well were both living in Southern California. Well, my old brother lives in Northern California, but my two other siblings live in Southern California. So just to be able to have everybody around me seeing me play again was an honor. We had a good run that first season, though we didn’t open up the season well that year with Chivas, we wound up putting together a good string of results that year for the season and we were just maybe one or two good players off from being a real good playoff team.
New York after that, the last stop on the tour so far in your career. Last season there was the trade that brought you here, then a chance at the beginning of this season to start your year off with the team.
I mean, getting traded sucks. A hundred percent it sucks. It sucks in so many ways, but to be traded to an organization like the Red Bulls was an honor for me. It was a pleasure to come here and I’ve been happy to be here and contribute in any way I can. We lost in the first round of the playoffs last year, which is disappointing, but we’ve got a strong squad this year and we expect to make the playoffs and beyond that, win a championship.