A defender who played 19 years for the U.S. women’s national team, including five Women’s World Cups, and played all of the first 11 seasons of women’s professional league soccer in the United States.
Pearce played 311 games for the United States between her debut against Australia in 1997 and her final game against Haiti in 2015. Those included 19 games in five World Cups, 22 games in four Olympic Games and 13 World Cup qualifiers. She was a mainstay of the U.S. defense for most of those years, and in addition to her three Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008 and 2012), she was the only person to play for both the United States team that won the Women’s World Cup in 1999 and the one that won it in 2015. She was captain of the U.S. teams in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games and the 2011 World Cup.
Pearce was the only player who played in all three seasons of the Women’s United Soccer Association (2001-2003), all three seasons of Women’s Professional Soccer (2009-2011) and the first five seasons of the National Women’s Soccer League (2013-2017). Two other players played the first nine of those 11 seasons, but then retired. The majority of Pearce’s 11 first-division seasons were spent with Sky Blue in New Jersey, all five of her NWSL seasons and two of her WPS seasons. She also played three WUSA seasons for New York and one WPS season for magicjack. In 2009, she was both captain of Sky Blue and interim coach during the playoffs as the New Jersey team won the WPS title. She was a NWSL first-team all-star in 2013 and 2014. During her 11 first-division seasons, she played 182 regular-season games and six playoff games.
Pearce, who was captain of the U.S. women’s national team for eight years, was one of the leaders of the “soccer mom” movement in the USWNT, with two daughters born during her national team years. In 2013, she was one of three then-active players, along with Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, named to the all-time U.S. women’s national team Best XI chosen by the USSF. In 2014 she became only the second player in world soccer history, after Kristine Lilly, to reach 300 caps.