By Charles Boehm
A major trade unfolded in MLS on Thursday as Chivas USA sent U.S. National Team defender Heath Pearce, allocation money and future considerations to the New York Red Bulls in exchange for another national teamer, promising young forward Juan Agudelo.
One of the most promising prospects in the nation, the 19-year-old Agudelo is a product of the Red Bulls youth academy who has struggled to earn regular playing time for the club despite showing glimpses of exceptional ability in MLS and international play.
“I am certainly excited to have Juan Agudelo joining our team, he’s a dynamic young forward who has an incredible future ahead of him,” said Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser in a press release. “The caveat is you have to give up an asset to get an asset, so in order to get a player like Juan you have to give up a very good player like Heath. So we are sad to see him go but this is part of the business. I want to thank Heath for all he´s done for us in his time here and we wish him the best.”
Pearce, 27, is a versatile veteran expected to play left back for New York, but capable of filling in anywhere along the back line or in a wide midfield role. He will join the Red Bulls this week and will be available for selection for New York’s match Saturday against the Montreal Impact at Olympic Stadium.
“Heath is a very talented and versatile defender who will bring immediate experience to our defense,” said New York Red Bulls General Manager and Sporting Director Erik Soler. “We have been long-time fans of his game and think that he will be an important player in our squad. In addition, we obtained a significant amount of financial flexibility moving forward with this trade. It was a deal we could not turn down.”
“To obtain someone of Heath’s pedigree and gain substantial financial considerations, we had to trade Juan – an exciting player with potential,” added Soler.
“In our discussions with Juan, he voiced that he wanted to have more time playing first-team soccer and even explore the option of moving to another team. We wanted to help him achieve this goal and further develop his career. It has been rewarding to watch Juan develop both as a player and a person within our Academy and First Team and we think that playing for Chivas USA will be a great new opportunity for his career. We wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Pearce was in the midst of his fourth season in Major League Soccer, playing every minute of Chivas USA’s 10 games this year. Last year, Pearce, who has played in every defensive position during his career, featured in 30 games, notching three assists. He previously starred for FC Dallas, Danish side Nordsjælland and Germany’s Hansa Rostock, and has earned 35 caps for the U.S. National Team.
The Colombian-born Agudelo has featured in 33 games since he became professional in 2010, starting 13, and scoring six goals and two assists. This year Agudelo has played in four games. He has earned 15 caps for the U.S. National Team and became the youngest player to ever score for the senior squad when he netted the winning goal in a friendly against South Africa in Cape Town on Nov. 17, 2010. He was also a regular on the U-20 and U-17 squads and his ample potential has stoked expectations that he will move to a major European league in the coming years.