Looking back at the Expansion Draft that happened only a week ago, one of the best players drafted by Orlando City was defender Heath Pearce. Although he was a later pick in the draft, he is possibly one of the best picks for Orlando.
Pearce has been playing a high level of professional soccer since way back in 2004. He is the definition of a "journeyman," having played for seven different teams in the past 10 years, with Orlando City being his eighth stop. Since coming back to the U.S., after playing in Denmark and Germany, he has played for FC Dallas, Chivas USA, New York Red Bulls and the Montreal Impact.
The journeyman extraordinaire has also played in the USMNT system, having experience in the U-17, U-18, U-20 and senior teams. Serving from 2005-11, Pearce logged 35 games for the National Team, primarily playing at the left back position. He was a regular starter back in 2008, logging the third most minutes of any player on the team at the time. However, since the firing of then-head coach Bob Bradley in 2011, Pearce has not seen the field for the National Team.
Pearce brings many different aspects to the young back line of Orlando City, but one of the most important things that he brings is experience. The youth of Tyler Turner, Tommy Redding and Rafael Ramos will certainly come into play during their first MLS campaign. That being said, it is important to have a veteran that can show them the ropes and can be a mentor to them as they mature. In steps a consummate veteran in Heath Pearce.
He is a good leader on the pitch, which will not only help the younger players, but also the veterans like Aurélien Collin and Luke Boden. It's always important to have someone on the back line that can take charge in certain situations, and Pearce is whom Adrian Heath can count on for this particular job.
The defender is also someone who can make an impact with his play on the field. Although having been moved to a central defender role over the past few years, Pearce still has the ability to create on the offensive end. He is known for his sense of timing and his accurate crossing ability on the wings, setting up goal scoring opportunities. Due to his versatility, he has also been deployed in the midfield, as well as all of the defensive positions in the back line. This will give Adrian Heath many options when it comes to his starting 11 and how he handles his bench.
Even though Orlando has made some very significant signings, with a few more upcoming, Pearce is a player worth keeping your eye on, especially when preseason begins in just a few months. The veteran journeyman's experience and leadership will definitely be imperative for Orlando City's success come March 2015.