DeMerit turns in solid performance in unexpected 90 minutes against Chelsea

Jay DeMerit (Getty Images)

By FRANCO PANIZO

CHESTER, Pa. — The plan was never for Jay DeMerit to go the distance against Chelsea. No, the plan MLS All-Stars head coach Ben Olsen originally had drawn up included replacing DeMerit at halftime so as to limit his minutes ahead of he and the Vancouver Whitecaps' visit to Real Salt Lake on Friday.

But when Sporting Kansas City centerback Aurelien Collin suffered a facial fracture and needed to be replaced late in the first half on Wednesday, that plan went out the window.

Collin's collision with Michael Essien was not only a scary sight during an entertaining 3-2 win for the MLS All-Stars at PPL Park, it also meant Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie would have to watch and hope that DeMerit would not suffer a similar fate in what turned out to be a 90-minute performance out of necessity for the sturdy central defender. Olsen replaced Collin with Philadelphia Union centerback Carlos Valdes, but that left the D.C. United head coach with no one on the bench to fill in for DeMerit.

"I'm going to get a bunch of calls from Vancouver really pissed off," said Olsen after the game. "That's what that means. The plan was get him out at halftime. He has a game on Friday and unfortunately, we couldn't do that. Our depth as center back wasn't great, so he had to gut it out. He knew that. He looked at me at halftime and said, 'What are you going to do?' But I thought he did a great job and it didn't really affect the game too much."

That's at least in part because of DeMerit's Man of the Match-worthy performance. In his 90 minutes on the field, the Whitecaps defender and former U.S. men's national team player broke up play after play. He positioned himself well throughout and his tackles were normally spot on, including on two diving goal-saving challenges in the first half that denied Romelu Lukaku on near breakaways.

DeMerit is no stranger to having to do the gritty work; he made a career out of that in Europe. And while you could not blame him for being hesistant to go the distance in what is essentially a glorified friendly that took places two days before his next league game, the 32-year-old had no second thoughts about helping out the MLS All-Stars when they needed it most.

"When your teammate breaks his cheek, it's probably something you've got to do for the team," said DeMerit. "Ben asked me at halftime, 'Can you step up and play 90? I don't really have anyone else.' When you're asked to do that, you're asked to help the guys come out and perform, that's what I'm all about. It was no problem."

That attitude combined with his stellar defensive contributions are why players and coaches alike were full of praise for DeMerit after the match. After all, had it not been for DeMerit's performance the MLS All-Stars could have conceded a late goal that would have seen their losing streak in All-Star matches continue.

"He's just rock solid," said MLS All-Stars goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who played the entire second half. "I told him while he was taking an ice bath that he had like four important headers in the last 10 minutes of the game. The ball seems to find him which means he is always in the right spot, so it was fun to play with him."

Media members also had praise for him after the match. Some even considered voting him for Man of the Match but refrained due to the nature of All-Star games and the offensive players usually claiming the accolades and awards.

DeMerit, however, is not one to complain about failing to get recognized for his efforts. For him, just being an All-Star, getting to enjoy the last few days with some of the other league's great talents and hepling his team to victory over the UEFA Champions League winners were enough to suffice.

"It's been everything you expect," said DeMerit of the All-Star experienced. "You get guys you play against every week to come together and have a good time and enjoy each other's company and each other's talents. I think we did a good job of doing that and to see it off with a win is just the icing on the cake."

 

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29 Responses to DeMerit turns in solid performance in unexpected 90 minutes against Chelsea

  1. Amru says:

    Granted I have not seen DeMerit play much this season,but from what I seem to remember he’s not great on the ball. For Klinsy’s system to work I think we need at least one CB that can control and distribute out of the back

  2. brad says:

    Id take DeMerit over Gooch any day of the week….

  3. Clayton says:

    I read the headline as “Demerit sold…” I was taken aback.

  4. the proof is in the pudding says:

    Was it not 2 years ago where DeMerit had an offer from Wolfsburg? I wonder why that didn’t happen

  5. bradleymancrush says:

    great article, Ives. Can we get your take on Bradley’s performance with Roma last night against Liverpool?

  6. Rainstpub says:

    +1 I think there are enough defenders for the US but I don’t think Gooch or DeMerit fit.

  7. patrick says:

    Franco wrote this article, not Ives

  8. squirt-lover says:

    DeMerit may not be the fastest. He may not be the smoothest. He may not be the best passer. There are others that have a prettier game.

    But he knows how to defend. He knows how to be in the right position. He makes me feel comfortable back there. He is smart. He gets the job done efficiently.

    I think there is a spot for a defender like him on the USMNT. Up a goal, in the last 10 minutes and we need a central defender, he is proven to be dependable. Give me him over Gooch and some of the other younger “potentially” gifted defenders.

  9. JohnC says:

    He is better than Onyewu.

  10. elgringorico says:

    I was never really clear on why he stopped playing for the USMNT. Can someone explain?

  11. Nate Dollars says:

    I’ve seen other people say that as well, but I don’t think so at all. not that gooch is good at distribution, but i’d say, from 1 to 10, gooch’s passing is at 3, and demerit’s is at 2. pretty much the same.

  12. Bill says:

    great article. good topic to address. was wondering about this after the game

  13. Neruda says:

    Good job DeMerit and for us RSL fans we hope he’s too tired to play against RSL at altitude in RioT.

    As for Collin, well the all star game is a gamble as RSL found out last year when Olave pulled something during his impressive performance against rooney and manU.

    It will be interesting to see if Wondo caught the attention of any European teams with his performance.

  14. BL says:

    Demerit may get a call up. U.S. is thin at CB and qualifying is a bumpy road where you don’t always want to throw inexperienced players (Ream, Gonzalez, Orozco Fical, etc.) into the mix. I can easily see Demerit playing a similar role as Hejduk during the last qualifying round…provide cover and experience should Boca, Goodson or Cameron get injured or have a dip in form.
    Demerit has his limitations but you always know what you are going to get with him: bulldog for 90 minutes that frustrates opposing attackers.

  15. jb says:

    If memory serves, he was in club limbo (no team) around the time JK took over as manager, and hasnt really had a good run of form until very recently. He looked pretty sharp to me last night…

  16. ISAF says:

    Injured after the CC. He took a few months until he played for Watford again. His contract ran out before the WC. After the tournament he was looked at by some bigger clubs but for some reason nothing happened.

    He signed with Vancouver in Nov 2010 and just seemed like he never got a call up. I guess he sorta just gave up. I recall him stating to give the younger guys a chance.

  17. ISAF says:

    We have Boca, Gooch, Cameron, Ream. Plus we still have George John and Orozco as you mentioned. DeMerit is an option if they are all injured but he’s only good as a last minute option.

  18. Joamiq says:

    Was there no fullback or defensive mid who could have stepped in at CB? It’s nice that DeMerit played so well, but I’d rightfully be pissed off if I were Martin Rennie.

  19. GW says:

    Jay is not Freddy Adu with the ball but how good does he have to be?

    Carles Puyol never struck me as anything more than a functional passer and it does not seem to have hurt Barca and Spain that much.

    Last night was the first time I’ve seen Jay since the World Cup and he looks, fitter leaner, slightly quicker and a little calmer on the ball than I remember.

    Maybe it was just the fact that he looked like Jason Bourne.

    All I know is he seems more secure defensively than any current center back I’ve seen with a US passport.

  20. GW says:

    He managed to get fit ( serious eye injury) just in time for the World Cup where I felt he was not as good as he was in the Confederations Cup.

    Afterwards, he got cut loose by Watford and the expected Euro transfers did not materialize.

    He eventually worked his way back to MLS and Vancouver. And then he got hurt.

    What we saw last night was fittest and leanest he has been since the Confederations Cup in 2009. I get the feeling Jay has surprised even himself.

    If nothing else I have to believe he at least has JK thinking about trying him out again.

    It’s pretty clear JK doesn’t care how old you are if you can play.

  21. GW says:

    ISAF,

    What is your reasoning for thinking George John and Fiscal are superior USMNT CBs to Jay D?

  22. GW says:

    At half time the game was still very competitive. Yes it was a friendly, but that is a tough spot to put someone who has never played CB before. It’s not a good idea to embarrass your players.

  23. nick says:

    Cap him now!

  24. Slowreno says:

    1 Boca
    2 Goodson
    3 Cameron
    4 Demerit

  25. beachbum says:

    excellent post, my thoughts as well.

    he won’t sniff a callup I predict although he was and is a better defender than Goodson…and I like Goodson.

    Funny thing about that is defenders typically get better with age, at least until their bodies can’t do it anymore. His body looked mighty fit as you said

  26. beachbum says:

    we’ll see if klinsmann gives Jay a shot

  27. beachbum says:

    good question

  28. MARK says:

    Please no Tim Ream!

  29. Jay deserves to be in the mix. He’s a veteran, very experienced, and has been through the fire. He may not “pass out of the back” that well, but he sure can defend, tackle, and make life miserable for the opposing forwards. The younger guys can play in friendlies and home qualifiers. Have Jay be the back up to Goodson and Boca, especially in away qualifiers.

    Don’t count out Gooch. He’s out best CB when healthy, in-shape, and in-form. He was playing really well before he got injured and missed several weeks at the end of last season. He was out of sync for the early summer qualifiers.