Jay DeMerit

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.

MLS Season Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps

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With the 2014 season approaching and a new coach in charge, the Whitecaps are hoping their new direction brings them new success. What remains to be seen is if the assembled roster can follow suit.

With an overload of defenders but gaps in the midfield, the Whitecaps are still a work in progress, but things appear to be moving in the correct direction. Up at BC Place they are hungry for success and the Southsiders are ready for some silverware to turn up in British Columbia. Thus far there’s been just one playoff appearance for ‘Caps fans to shout about, but this year they could be a dark horse in the race out West.

LATEST 2014 MLS SEASON PREVIEWS, RIGHT HERE

Players In: Steven Beitashour (trade with San Jose), Matias Laba (trade with Toronto FC), Nicolas Mezquida (transfer from Boston River – Uruguay), Sebastian Fernandez (loan from Boston River – Uruguay), Paolo Tornaghi (free agent), Mehdi Ballouchy (San Jose, Re-Entry Stage 2), Christian Dean (MLS SuperDraft – Cal), Andre Lewis (MLS SuperDraft, New York Cosmos), Mamadou Diouf (MLS SuperDraft – UConn), Michael Kafari (MLS SuperDraft, University of New Mexico), Mackenzie Pridham (MLS SuperDraft, Cal Poly)

Players Out: Camilo Sanvezzo (Transfer to Queretaro FC), Daigo Kobayashi (Traded to New England), Brad Knighton (Traded to New England), Lee Young-Pyo (retired), Greg Klazura (waived), Joe Cannon (waived), Brad Rusin (waived), Tommy Heinemann (waived), Jun Marques Davidson (wavied), Simon Thomas (waived), Corey Hertzog (waived).

source: AP
19-year-old Kekuta Manneh will be an important part of Vancouver’s strike force as they look to replace Camilo.

Key Players: Kenny Miller/Kekuta Manneh

On a roster completely lacking of any particular star power, it will be up to this strike pair to replace the 22 goals and five assists lost when Camilo completed his transfer to the Liga MX.  19-year-old Maneh, according to coach Carl Robinson, will receive “a lot of time and…a lot of opportunities” to ply his trade up front.

The two of them, plus support from Omar Salgado, Darren Mattocks, and the complete unknown in Nicolas Mezquida should be just fine in replacing the Uruguayan superstar.

However, if multiple pieces of this front line break just as they did last year, it will be very difficult for one particular individual to carry the load. Manneh is only 19, Miller is on the other end of the spectrum at 34 years old and remains fragile, the rest at this point are little more than bench options.

The offense should be fine at the beginning of the year, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the attack get off to a bang. They’ll need it to, especially with the completely retooled defense behind them still learning to play together. But the biggest question for the offense will be can it hold up through the rigors of a long season.

Manager: With the departure of Martin Renne after last season, the load now falls on Carl Robinson, who is fresh off his 14-year playing career. The club reportedly made a go at Bob Bradley, Frank Yallop, and Jason Kreis, but failed to bring in any big names.  That left them with one option – promote from within.

At just 37 years old, he’s been thrust into the role, promoted from assistant just a year after joining the Whitecaps.  Robinson only finished his playing career in 2011, retiring as a New York Red Bull. Speaking of the Red Bulls, the bar has been set for first-year former players as coaches by Mike Petke in New York, carrying them to the Supporter’s Shield in his first season as a head coach.

With high expectations in Vancouver and the club in the process of picking up last year’s pieces, there is a lot on Robinson’s plate this season.  But that’s usually the case with any first-year coach.

Outlook: The aura surrounding the Whitecaps this year is young. Their coach is young, the drafted players out of college appear to be headed towards a significant role, and the aforementioned Kekuta Manneh is just 19.  The club has retooled quite a bit and as a result they will not be relying heavily on one or two individuals to carry the brunt of the weight.

However, with a defense that has been shuffled completely, including the exciting addition of Cal central defender Christian Dean and the return of Jay DeMerit, it may take a while for the back line to run together effectively and efficiently.  Thanks to that, the attack will need a flying start early to offset a potentially rusty defense learning on the fly.