DeMerit announces retirement in open letter to Whitecaps fans

Jay DeMerit

Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

One of U.S. Soccer’s most perseverant players has played his last game.

Jay DeMerit has announced his retirement in an open letter to Vancouver Whitecaps fans. DeMerit’s decision comes after two injury-plagued seasons in Vancouver in which the centerback suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the season opener in 2013 and another torn tendon in his left ankle in June.

DeMerit, 34, leaves the game after an admirable career that saw him work his way up the divisions in England before making the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2010 World Cup roster. He started all four of the Americans’ games that summer in South Africa, and made 25 appearances for the U.S. in total.

He was the first player signed by the Whitecaps in November 2010 in preparation for the club’s entry into MLS. In his three-and-a-half seasons in Vancouver, DeMerit made 69 league starts in 71 appearances and had a goal and an assist.

Before arriving in MLS and becoming an MLS All-Star in 2012, DeMerit spent the bulk of his career at Watford. He helped the club reach the Premiership and served for some time as the Hornets’ captain.

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What do you think of DeMerit’s decision to retire? What is your favorite memory?

Share your thoughts below.

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29 Responses to DeMerit announces retirement in open letter to Whitecaps fans

  1. Benjamin C. says:

    Favorite memory is his perfect roll over the top of the dogpile following Landon’s goal against Algeria. I have watched that clip countless times, and his form is impeccable.

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      Not sure how the trainer who got a face full of DeMerit’s boot felt about it, but based on his celebratory rock-n-roll pelvic thrust afterwards I’d guess he was okay.
      link to youtube.com

  2. Brian S. says:

    I hope everyone takes the time to watch “Rise & Shine: The Jay Demerit Story”. I bought it on iTunes and it was worth every penny. I have watched it multiple times and will watch it many more times. Jay Demerit is the epitome of what can happen when you don’t give up and believe in yourself. In my opinion, he will go down as one of the all time greats for the USMNT. I hope he sticks around the game in some fashion.

    • Josh D says:

      This. The man is not only a legend in US soccer, but a legend of men. The guy fought his way to the very top. There can’t be enough said about the warrior. While I like our more tactical central defenders, I’ll always have time for the bruisers.

      • Eric W says:

        I love this mofo.

        He always looked like one of the best players on the field with the Nats. He really did kind of come out of nowhere to put a lock on the starting CB role before the 2010 WC. And, agree, the movie is really awesome.

      • beachbum says:

        I love this mofo too. nice tribute page developing here too.

        vs. Slovenia Torres started and I remember feeling like DeMerit was his personal body guard out there. real or perceived in that instance he had everybody’s back and his physicality gave others confidence. love playing with guys like Jay, not so much against

    • beto says:

      Great story, great player. Modern day American pioneer!

      • Horsewhistle says:

        Hey! Have you guys heard about his documentary by Werner Herzog?
        I like the part about Jay being the illegitmate son of Chuck Norris.
        No, not the one in the Ladybugs movie.

  3. Dave From Charlotte says:

    I stopped following him on Twitter due to a few too many political tweets, but he deserves RESPECT. Great career and very admirable story. Happy to say I own the DVD, and even happier to see he’s going to be an ambassador with the team.

    Great American (even if I don’t like his politics).

  4. Dainja says:

    I know this may not be possible for DeMerit because he’s injured, but any hope for Bocanegra at least getting a tribute/send off game for the USMNT? He’s our former captain for cryin out loud.

    • Lorenzo says:

      I think a social media push for a game like this could make it happen. Location would be key. Who would play? Bocanegra, Donovan, Onyewu, Cherundolo, Friedel, maybe Beckerman and Beasley, but I bet their still on for next year.

    • beachbum says:

      Captain Carlos!

  5. dbcoyle says:

    Highly recommend “Rise and Shine”, his biopic he filmed making his way in the England pub leagues up through the Premiership. I show it to each new youth team I coach every year. Hugely underrated American player. Congrats Jay. Great career. Sorry to hear of the injuries. Similar story with Jo Max Moore of the 90′s.

  6. Nico C. says:

    Jay DeMerit isn’t just a great soccer story – he’s a great American story. With injuries, sure it didn’t pan out to be the greatest career ever, but he prevailed and became a model for all American soccer players to strive for. From Chicago Fire PDL, to Watford and helping getting them promoted to the Premier League, to the USMNT and captaining the Vancouver Whitecaps – that’s absolutely amazing in the bigger picture. Kudos to him, and we’ll hopefully remember him in US soccer history in years to come.

  7. Ali Dia says:

    Congratulations to Jay Demerit on an amazing, one-of-a-kind career — the sort that is not supposed to happen at all in this day and age. Though he was among the last to become established, he was emblematic of the generation of US defenders who are now winding down their careers… the leadership instict within this group (many of whom, like Demerit, did not have spectacular physical qualities other than size, and were not rated as strong technical talents) was so uniformly strong — the “secret sauce” of the USMNT over the past 20 years has been concentrated in this largely intangible quality as shared amongst our back four and GK.

    As the USMNT moves on to higher ambitions, it is understandable that we can’t rely on Jay Demerits to pop out of the woodwork much longer. It’s not a realistic story, and it’s safe to say Demerit probably wasn’t getting attention from Barcelona’s scouts even when he was anchoring the defense vs. Spain in 2009. But you do have to wonder — if you are JK or Gulati or anybody really who focusing on the restructure of our development programs and planning for our future generations — is it possible to really grow this exceptional leadership quality organically? Is this taught? Transferred? Why do we have all these unglamourous defenders, yet we’ve played four games against eventual finalists (3 winners) at the World Cup since 1994, and have not conceded more than 1 goal in any. We have not had a centerback of Rafa Marquez’s technical skill and passing ability. Not close. But we’ve had about 20 guys migrate through the back who were not prone to letting down the team in such spectacular and cavalier fashion in big moments. They are focused, selfless, and aware of the job they need to perform in concert with one another, and they do not accept defeeat, even if they are individually blameless in the eyes of most.

    Often this is called a “blue collar” mentality — probably a lame term at this point, and not one that would necessarily translate to our youngsters (even the doemestic ones). But it matters — the evidence is littered across all of our best results and tournaments. I hope that we can still see some qualities in the next generations – in moments and matches when they are being challenged, and are not playing 30 yard through balls with both feet – that bring up images of players like Demerit finding solutions, always remaining focused and in-control, and fighting through the clusterf*ck to get the result. This is a finished product, for a USMNT team.

    • Increase0 says:

      I think you need one of each. You want a Rafa Marquez but you also need your Thiago Silva.
      Who says back, leads and organizes.

      Yes, I’m aware that Silva can do both but still his ability to read the game and stay calm is what you want.(That quarterfinal yellow is still mind blowing.)

    • KingGoogleyEye says:

      Ali Dia, this was a great comment.

      we’ve had about 20 guys migrate through the back who were not prone to letting down the team in such spectacular and cavalier fashion in big moments. They are focused, selfless, and aware of the job they need to perform in concert with one another, and they do not accept defeat, even if they are individually blameless in the eyes of most.

      In terms of our current CBs, would you agree that Besler fits the bill? He’s not a tenacious zombie bulldog like DeMerit, but he turns in smart, hard-working performances without the flair. As for younger players, I’m not so sure. I could see Cameron getting there, depending on how he’s played in the future.

      • Eric W says:

        I would say Besler is close. Before this WC I would have said Cameron too, but he made a couple big errors and looks shaky too often. Of course, it would help for him to have one position to completely develop in. Here’s to hoping that John Brookes continues on this trajectory too. I had hoped Ream would be that guy as well – don’t know now though.

      • Lost in Space says:

        Besler is closest to being that “Blue Collar” type CB who reads the game well and squashes the attack before it begins (a-la Boca). Quiet but confident, works hard but isn’t flashy, overall a smart player who organizes and leads.
        Brooks, O’Neill, and Packwood all have the beginnings of these qualities. They are grounded young players who have very good work ethics and have had to overcome some difficulties. Time will tell if they continue down this path or get sidetracked by fame and/or ego.
        Center Backs, like keepers, usually take longer to reach their full potential and abilities. 28 -31 is usually their best performance age, where they have the experience but before their physical abilities fall off. The 2010 WC defense had loads of experience & leadership (Boca, DeMerit, Dolo, & Gooch). 2014 had almost none since Gooch never recovered and Boca & Dolo were slipping too fast physically. 2018 (baring injuries) should have a lot of experience…returning at lease 2 CB’s (possibly 3 or 4) and 2 outside defenders (potentially 3) with WC Games under their belts.
        I look forward to seeing this group putting up a lot of clean sheets over the next 4 years.

        • KingGoogleyEye says:

          I wouldn’t Brooks on that list of quiet, confident, and responsible defenders just yet: he got a full back tattoo during the season and had to miss a match due to the swelling.

      • Ali Dia says:

        Yes I concur — I would say Besler showed me exactly what I was hoping to see from him going into the World Cup. In the months prior to the tournament, his reputation had quietly grown to the point that most expected him to be the only sure-fire starter in the back-line (FJ’s deployment was not clear). in no small part because he had kept lid on the high-profile errors that limited confidence in Gonzalez, Brooks, and others. But his track record was brief and limited in scope to CONCACAF/MLS … very little in his pedigree, physical stature, or international experience would have caught the attention of a neutral looking for reasons to think the Americans would get through the group.

        That Besler was able to sustain this consistency against far superior opposition was superb to see, if not altogether shocking. After all, we’ve gotten by bringing hot dogs to the big BBQ before (and it’s not the first time we’ve sent the Portuguese home in tears with their little tubs of tapas).

        What was more gratifying was seeing Besler visibly grow into the role of a first-choice USMNT center back in the face of the challenge. His dozen-or-so USMNT performances were quietly effective, but I had not yet seen him demonstrate a vocal leadership instinct. And with Cherundolo and Boca gone, the potential void was becoming troubling (Tim Howard is only 1-3 men). But Besler was pro-active constantly, alert to the soft spots, and completely up for the challenge. I can live with mistakes like the one on the first Belgium goal — it was a failure of execution against a monstrously strong forward who had come on as a substitute. It was not laziness or a lapse in concentration, and the response was everything one would hope for.

        For now, Besler showed he has the DNA for the job. Brooks and Gonz may one day play together, but they are nowhere near ready to do so without adult supervision. Besler does it without their physical tools– hopefully they drink this up… both did well in Brazil to their credit.

      • Josh says:

        Tenacious zombie bulldog… That is brilliant. Didn’t want that to go unacknowledged.

  8. slowleftarm says:

    Incredible story. Wish him the best.

  9. Dude says:

    Love this guy – much respect

  10. barachus says:

    Legend

  11. inkedAG says:

    Wonderful life story and a great guy. I wish him the very best.

  12. Prettypenguin says:

    A true Cascadian rival, and a great USMNT player. All the best.

  13. OB Rick says:

    Great letter Jay!

    • Diego's Maradoughnuts says:

      +1 on this. Man knows his community, and I’m sure the people of Vancouver will enjoy reading his open letter over a game of ultimate frisbee and a fat doob. Eventually somebody should probably tell Steve Nash. Meh whatever.

      Makes you wonder if Jay spared a thought for Watford, where he was quite popular and highly-regarded. Here’s hoping Ives has a story tm about him showing up unannounced, headbutting the mayor, defecating on a bus bench, and eventually accepting a plate of chips from a sympathetic shop owner– which he ate by himself in the rain before being escorted to the town limits by a constable, the highest honor generally bestowed upon the town’s favorite sons, and which would never in a million years be afforded to a daft pr*ck like Elton John or Ashley Young.