The New York Red Bulls' defender scored in the 85th minute as the visitors salvaged a 1-1 tie with the Vancouver Whitecaps in Major League Soccer action Wednesday.
It was the first goal for the defender in his four-year MLS career and his first since 2007 when he played in the Danish Superliga. It was also just his fifth game played since being acquired from Chivas USA in a trade in May.
On a late corner kick, Pearce emerged through a crowd to head in Joel Lindpere's cross past goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
"It was a great cross," said Pearce. "It wasn't much for me to do in the position that I was in. Luckily I was able to finish it and we were able to get out of here with a point."
Vancouver had kept the Red Bulls to the outside for much of the night but gave away the lead on a set piece.
"They gave us the space," said Pearce of his scoring play. "They were caught off guard for a second there. I saw Joel (Lindpere) motioning over to Dane (Richards) to come over for a short corner. They were caught a little bit flat footed. We drew a couple guys out of the box and it opened up space for us at the back post."
Vancouver (7-3-5), which remains unbeaten in five games (2-0-3), knows that the goal should have been avoided.
"First the linesman gave a goal kick, which turned into a corner, so that was a bit frustrating, and then we didn't defend it right," said Whitecaps' head coach Martin Rennie. "That's avoidable on our part. (On a set piece) the minute somebody doesn't do their job it can cost you and it did."
Martin Bonjour's goal in the 75th minute gave the Whitecaps a late lead.
The ball was crossed by Davide Chiumiento from the right wing and after a friendly touch by Alain Rochat it found its way to the Argentine defender at the top of the box.
After a brief hesitation the 27-year-old MLS rookie belted a right-footed shot to the top right of the net for his first goal.
"Davide gave me a beautiful ball," said Bonjour through a translator. "I just stopped the ball and thought about putting it to the net because it was the right time to do it."
His coach noticed Bonjour's overall effort Wednesday.
"Martin scored a good goal and had an excellent night," said Rennie. "He kept Kenny Cooper quiet, and he's a very good player."
Cannon made five saves for the Whitecaps.
New York (8-4-3) goalie Ryan Meara failed to stop the only shot on target by Vancouver.
"You play a good team, play them away and they haven't let in many goals this season," said New York’s coach Jan Halvorsen. "We scored a goal and earned a point. I'm very happy with that. Sometimes you can be happy with one point."
The Red Bulls played without the services of designated players Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez, who also missed New York's 3-1 loss to the Chicago Fire on Sunday that snapped a six-game unbeaten streak. Henry's nine goals are the third most in the league.
The Whitecaps were without Darren Mattocks, who was suspended after receiving two yellow cards in Saturday's 1-0 win over Colorado.
Camilo Sanvezzo drew back into the starting lineup in his place and, though he had numerous scoring chances, failed to record a shot before being replaced by Eric Hassli in the 64th minute.
The game had an edge to it early.
In the 14th minute Dane Richards drew a yellow card when he threw a forearm to the head of Gershon Koffie while jumping for a ball. With that caution Richards will be suspended from the Red Bulls' next game.
The game continued to be physical, resulting in Lindpere being shown a yellow card in the 20th minute for upending Koffie.
The Red Bulls out-fouled the Whitecaps 14-7.
"We're an aggressive team and we're not going to back down from anybody," said Pearce. "We weren't afraid to get dirty ... and we need to make it hard for teams to play attractive soccer against us and get chances. Part of that is fouling at the right time and never letting them build a rhythm."
Koffie had Vancouver's first good scoring chance in the 28th minute. Chiumiento undressed Dax McCarty with some nifty foot work before feeding a wide-open Koffie at the top of the box, but the Ghana native missed the net wide left.
Then, Camilo failed on two scoring chances. In the 32nd minute Camilo missed wide left as well from almost the exact same spot. Six minutes later Camilo was sent in by Chiumiento down the left side and had Meara scrambling on the turf, but the 24-year-old Brazillian hit the side of the net, keeping the game scoreless.
Camilo continued to get himself open looks in the second half, including a 57th-minute shot that he rushed and didn't get much on after Sebastien Le Toux created space for him on a two-on-two rush.
New York got a free kick from just outside the box but Kenny Cooper fired it well over the net, keeping the game scoreless through 64 minutes.
"You guys saw the crowd today — it was packed," said Vancouver's Jun Marques Davidson of the 20,060 fans who came out to B.C. Place. "We just wanted to give them the three points."
The Red Bulls host D.C. United on Sunday while the Whitecaps head to Los Angeles to face the Galaxy on Saturday.
NOTES: Vancouver's Atiba Harris (knee) and Omar Salgado (foot) both sat out the game with injuries. . . New York's Mehdi Ballouchy did not travel with New York due to green card issues. . . New York head coach Hans Backe did not make the trip and was replaced by Jan Halvorsen on the sideline for the game.