A good deal of Robin Fraser's design to, nearly from scratch, build Chivas USA into a winner has to do with setting standards for how things operate, creating a culture of character and -- the old soccer buzzword -- professionalism.
It's about veteran leadership, really, and the right kind, too, and Tuesday's trade to acquire veteran fullback Heath Pearce -- for allocation money -- is the fourth such move Chivas has made since finishing 15th of 16 clubs last season.
Pearce, 26, a U.S. national-teamer who spent two seasons in Denmark and two in Germany, arrived from FC Dallas in a swap for allocation money. He follows Venezuelan forward Alejandro Moreno, 31, acquired in an expansion draft-day trade; former U.S. national team center back Jimmy Conrad, 37, picked up from Sporting Kansas City in December's re-entry draft; and New Zealand World Cup standout Simon Elliott, 37, who signed a free-agent deal last week.
Throw in Brazilian central midfielder Paulo Nagamura, 27, and the Goats have at least four real leaders after struggling to find one most of last season.
“I think as you're rebuilding, you have a lot of talented young players who at the end of the day will listen, learn and improve,” Fraser said Tuesday. “I think the whole process will be a lot faster if you have veteran and experienced players who have been through the process before. Certainly, good people and good, experienced leaders are extremely valuable in that process.”
Pearce might be the most prestigious pick-up for this side. He might have been surplus for the Hoops -- they've got six legitimate defensive starters -- but he's a first-level MLS outside back who adds to Chivas dimensions of depth.
He can play on either side -- and figures to nab a starting job on either the left or the right.
“I think of Heath as a great utility back who can play either side -- and play either side extremely well,” Fraser said. “It gives you luxury to have a player like that. He's one of these guys who gives us a great deal of versatility.”
Fraser called Pearce “a very good defensive outside back and a very good outside back and a very good outside back going forward” and told MLS's Web site that the Northern Californian is “an incredible defending outside back. He’s got great pace, and he gets forward very well, and he’s very mature and experienced. 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.”