Jay DeMerit

Premier League
Photo by Nick Potts - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Picking a favorite Premier League era player for all 20 current clubs

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Surely you’ve seen the lists circulating for at least one sport during this coronavirus quarantine.

Who’s your favorite player from every team in a top league?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

We definitely want to see your lists, but won’t dodge the duty of putting together a 20-pack of our own.

The only two parameters are that the player spent the lion’s share of his career — or career so-far — with the team in question or had a significant historical moment with the club, and that he played during the Premier League era.

There will be the appearance of recency bias for some of these clubs whose PL existence doesn’t run back too far.

And there’s also the challenge that comes with certain players just striking our fancy at any given time.

Arsenal — It just has to be Thierry Henry.  The French magician elevated the beauty of the game, even if you didn’t like his particular club.

Aston Villa — Oddly enough as an American, I’m not going with one of the Brads (Freidel or Guzan). I’m also going with a player who’s playing just his second season with the club. Tyrone Mings is a fearless defender with an old-school ethic. One of the scariest players in the league today.

Bournemouth — Wanted to cheat and say Eddie Howe, but the Cherries weren’t in the PL when he was a player. I’ll take one of the two closest things to Howe on the current roster and that is Steve Cook (honorable nod to Simon Francis). Cook has appeared a record 329 times for the Cherries beginning at the League One level in 2011. Massive respect to a mainstay who isn’t even the first Steve Cook that shows up on a Google search.

Brighton and Hove Albion — I’m sure there’s a subset of Seagulls supporters who haven’t yet forgiven Glenn Murray for his time at M23 Derby rivals Palace, but I love that the 36-year-old is still bagging goals in his second 100-plus appearance stint with the club.

Burnley — Tom Heaton may be the most underappreciated keeper to don an England shirt, and he’s twice led the Clarets into the Premier League. Now in a different claret shirt, he’s not forgotten.

Chelsea — Love the helmet. Love the saves. Love the rock drumming and the post-soccer hockey career. Petr Cech, all the way. In time, though, this could become Cesar Azpilicueta or, for obvious reasons, Christian Pulisic.

Crystal Palace — Mile Jedinak. I loved the guy not just for being a tremendous and intimidating midfielder, but because he might’ve kept all sorts of items in his dense beard.

Everton — Come on. Too easy.

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Leicester City — This one’s tricky via our rules, as he’s won the league with two different teams and has spent longer with the second one but N’Golo Kante made his name on the Foxes’ miracle title team. In time, he may be looked at as a player who revolutionized or at least brilliantly refined his position. If you must have another name, pretend I chose Kasper Schmeichel.

Liverpool — This one may surprise given the amount of attacking and eye-catching talent to roam Anfield, but there are few players I enjoyed watching more than Martin Skrtel. I once saw a cartoon image of him eating nails out of a cereal bowl and considered for a moment that it might be part of his diet.

Manchester City — Tricky one, this. James Milner at this point seems destined to be remembered as a Liverpool man, don’t you think? Ultimately, I’m going to overlook how slimy agent Dimitry Seluk tried to derail my love for Yaya Toure, one of the characters of the game with an almost unrivaled skill set. Also, the birthday cake thing is still pretty funny.

Manchester United — Roy Keane just over Nemanja Vidic.

Newcastle United — A tough one for me, who has found appeal with a number of players to don the black and white stripes. Alan Shearer’s legend helped shape my love for the game and Shay Given performing well above his size makes him high on the list. But for some reason the cerebral and physical play of club leader Fabricio Coloccini makes him my favorite player in the world. I didn’t say I was normal.

Norwich City — Shout out to Nathan Redmond, but I can’t get the early season heroics of 30-going-on-50 striker Teemu Pukki out of my mind here. Emi Buendia has a shot here if Norwich can stay up and he doesn’t bolt for another club.

Sheffield United —  ITough one here, as Blades spent only three PL season prior to this one and two were when I was in middle school. I like John Lundstram over club heroes Phil Jagielka and Billy Sharp.

Southampton — Tough one here as Saints have had so many players shine for them only to become firmly associated with other clubs. I loved Virgil van Dijk back to his Celtic days but he’s undoubtedly Liverpool at this point. Give me Adam Lallana and a pair of crossed fingers that he returns to St. Mary’s to remind us of the man who scored 59 times with 48 assists after coming out of the vaunted Saints academy.

Tottenham Hotspur — I’d love to force Clint Dempsey in here but that’s a Fulham man, man. And I’ve got a lot of time for Heung-min Son, too. But I’m going to give an edge to Robbie Keane over his strike partner Jermain Defoe.

Watford — Show me a man who looks like he enjoys sandwiches as much as the rest of us but has a century of goals between the Championship and Premier League and I’ll be challenged to say I like someone more than Troy Deeney. American bias, sure, but Jay DeMerit‘s story of being ignored by MLS sides out of college and knocking on doors around England en route to a Man of the Match performance in a Premier League promotion-clinching win is chest-thumping stuff.

DeMerit scores the opener versus Leeds(Photo by Barrington Coombs – PA Images via Getty Images)

West Ham United — Bit of a strange one here. Michael Carrick was a beauty and an academy guy but you’re not going to mistake him for anything other than Man Utd. I’m going with Sporting KC’s Kiwi center back Winston Reid as the player I’ve most admired during my time watching the Hammers.

Wolverhampton Wanderers — Big Raul Jimenez gets my nod. The best active player in North America.

Jay DeMerit’s retirement letter is as grateful, humble and classy as you’d expect

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Earlier today we told you that Vancouver Whitecaps defender Jay DeMerit was set to call it a career, and confirmation comes less than a pair of hours later.

The 34-year-old announced his retirement in an open letter on Vancouver’s web site, one in which he touched on his remarkable rise from American college soccer to muddy amateur games in England to the Premier League and the World Cup.

And DeMerit laid it out in the fashion you expect from the hard-working, ambitious defender we’ve admired for many years. Here’s what the former Watford and Vancouver captain had to say about the end of his career following a tendon injury.

From Whitecapsfc.com:

Even if I was to get back to a level where I could potentially play again, I would be putting at risk the reputation that I have spent so many years trying to create, and I won’t do that.  I’ve never taken the field just because I can. I’m either all in or all out. I take the field because I’m ready and able to give my all, to fight for my teammates, and give a committed performance for my club or my country.

I’ve always been the kind of player who wears his heart on his sleeve – and it’s that heart that is telling me it’s time to stop. If I can’t be the player that I have always been, and play to a standard that I believe is high enough, then it’s time for me to smile, say thank you, and give my commitment to a new cause.

I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped my dreams become a reality over the past 11 years.

I’m sitting on my balcony, watching the sun drop behind the mountains of Vancouver, British Columbia. The ocean water in the bay is calm and I’m at peace.

I can’t wait to see what’s next.

The letter is absolutely worth your time, and I have to give a nod to my local American Outlaws chapter for the following contention:

Hear, hear!

Report: Jay DeMerit set to call it a career; ‘Caps to get relief

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One of American soccer’s best stories is reportedly set to call it a career.

On the shelf following an ankle injury on June 7, Jay DeMerit has reportedly chosen to retire rather than continue with his rehab.

It’s been a rough few years in terms of health for DeMerit, 34, who started his career by literally knocking on stadium doors in Europe before finding his way to the Premier League and the US national team (There’s been a documentary based on his career called “Rise & Shine“).

According to Marc Weber’s report in The Province, the defender’s choice could’ve been nudged along by his planned career after playingsoccer.

From The Province:

He also had other options to consider.

Sources say DeMerit will take a job with the league and work out of Vancouver, although the nature of that work isn’t yet clear.

He’s a highly marketable figure in the U.S., where he recently did some TV work for ESPN ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

His rags-to-riches story — undrafted kid from Green Bay, Wisc., climbs the ladder in England and scores the goal that lifts Watford into the Premier League — has captivated many along the way.

DeMerit earned 25 caps for the United States, and played overseas with Watford before coming to Major League Soccer.

His retirement would save the Whitecaps $100,000, and could trigger a signing to aid in Vancouver’s defense. The Caps are currently tied for the final playoff spot in the West, but would lose out to Colorado on goal differential.

Scrappy 10-man Chivas USA still unbeaten after 1-1 tie with Vancouver

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Agustin Pelletieri’s foul on Vancouver midfielder Pedro Morales put a serious crimp in Chivas USA’s plans for a 2-0 start, as a red card inside of the first 13 minutes put the home side down to 10 men on Sunday night, but the Goats scored before managing a 1-1 tie.

It wasn’t a clear-cut red, as Pelletieri came in nearly side-footed. Yet his foot ended up on top of Morales, who crumpled to the grass. Referee Ramon Hernandez did not hesitate a moment to take the red out of his pocket.

Erick Torres scored for Chivas USA, while Kekuta Manneh found the late equalizer for the Whitecaps.

Even with only 21 men on the field, there was little to nothing of danger in the first half. The two teams were set to walk to the dressing room 0-0 when Nigel Reo-Coker made an awful giveaway.

Morales picked up the ball and raced up the middle of the pitch, passing left to Erick Torres. The striker took a touch to the middle of the field and fired on net from just outside the 18, with the ball hitting Jay DeMerit in the rear end and crossing the goal line.

And just like that, despite being down to 10-men for 33 minutes, Chivas USA was a half away from a — could you believe it? — 2-0 start.

The Goats nearly doubled their advantage after an uncalled foul on DeMerit sprung a 3v2 break. Torres left the ball for Barrera, whose shot was saved by David Ousted.

Darren Mattocks caught a long ball near the penalty spot, but barely nudged the ball through the legs of Chivas USA keeper Dan Kennedy, giving the Goats defense time to rescue the ball before it crossed the line.

But dynamic sub Manneh finally broke through for Vancouver. An industrious Mattocks worked the ball down the left side of the field before cutting back to Manneh, who finished low and hard to tie the score in the 81st minute.

Both teams joined FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake as Western Conference teams with four points through two matches.

Vancouver is in New England next Saturday for a 2p.m. ET kickoff against the Revs, while Chivas USA heads to Dallas for a first-place matchup at 8:30p.m. ET on the same day.

Three Good Questions: Vancouver Whitecaps’ Jay DeMerit

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Jay DeMerit is approaching the one-year anniversary of an Achilles injury that cost him all but eight games of the 2013 season, but if Saturday’s performance at Providence Park is any indication, the 25-time United States international is ready to reclaim a space among the best defenders in Major League Soccer. Thanks in part to his performance, the Vancouver Whitecaps prevented the Portland Timbers from scoring an open play goal in their 1-1 draw at the Rose City Invitational.

After the game, the Vancouver captain talked to ProSoccerTalk about the Whitecaps’ coaching change, his goals for the 2014 season, and his health entering his fourth season in Major League Soccer.

PST: Martin [Rennie] was respected as a bright guy – a bright young coach. Carl is also a bright young coach, but the one difference between them: Carl [Robinson] has a [lot] of MLS experience. Are you seeing that difference in how he approaches things?

DeMerit: Yeah, I think so. That was always the talking point at the end of the season  when it matters, you need guys with [MLS] experience.

Carl certainly has that, both on a playing side and on a coaching side, as an assistant. He is a guy that can bring us to that next level. With only six weeks of him at the helm, we’re already showing the improvement. Hopefully we can take that now to the next level.

On whether veteran leadership is important amid changing coaches.

Very much so, and I know that’s Robo’s (Carl Robinson’s) vision as well, to keep some of the older guy. Kenny Miller, Andy O’Brien, myself — guys that have many, many years of experience — are just as important. As he moves into his next stage of his career as a head coach, he’s going to need all the help had can get, as well.

I think we’ve created a good team environment here, where we’re all in it together. It’s not Robo trying to be the boss. He’s there knowing he needs his leaders and we need him, too.

The best teams I’ve ever been on are the ones that are all together, and we’re defintiely starting to show that now here.

PST: At this point in your career, what kind of personal goals do you set going into a new year? Be one of the league’s best defenders? All-Star team? How do you measure your own performance?

DeMerit: First off, you want to be a leader on a good team. For me, the number one thing I can ever do is get respect form my teammates and my coaching staff. So that’s number one: To make sure I’m here and giving my all for this team.

Number two is to stay healthy. As you get older, that sometimes becomes an issue. So my goal this year is to stay healthy, to play as many games as I can for this club.

And thirdly, it’s always to test yourself against the best in the league, and for them to walk of fthe field knowing I was hard to play against. It’s always been my goal playing against the best players in the world, and that has to continue now.

I enjoy that. For me it’s all about the competition, and I love competing. This year doesn’t change that.

PST: How are you doing health-wise, especially after what happened last year?

DeMerit: It’s been fine. I haven’t missed a day of training yet. Obviously, I finished the last two months of the season, so that was a good indicator.

With serious injuries, you never really know. Once you get back on the field and get back to where you were, that’s a good sign for moving forward.

It’s been fine ever since. Of course, I have to stay on it. I’m 34, and I’ll be 35 this year. I have to make sure I do all the maintenance work required, as to where I’m at in my career.

On the mental aspects of returning from an Achilles injury.

At the end of the season, that was the biggest mental hurdle, not only to prove to myself but to prove to the club that I can still be the player that I was. That’s the first step.

Once I was able to do that, I moved into the offseason with a fair amount of confdence I’d be back. We were able to get the contract done, so I’m happy to be here and still being a leader of this team.

We have a good young group of guys, but we need the old guard to step in and be leaders this year, because there aren’t too many old guys on this team. I think a lot of us that are here are happy to play that role and are looking forward to a good season.