VANCOUVER Whitecaps FC captain Jay DeMerit announced his retirement on Thursday, ending a 10-year professional career that saw him appear at the top level in England and the FIFA World Cup before coming to Major League Soccer.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in my 10-year professional career with two clubs that will forever remain close to my heart,” said DeMerit. “I hope that I will be able to continue to inspire others to pursue their dreams. Every time I stepped on the pitch I gave my all, and I’ll do the same as I step into my new role with Whitecaps FC.”
DeMerit, the club’s first-ever signing and captain in MLS, will stay on with the club as part of the community relations team and will be honoured at the last regular season match of 2014 on Saturday, October 25, when Whitecaps FC host Colorado Rapids at BC Place.
JAY DEMERIT CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENTS
– First-ever Whitecaps FC signing and captain in MLS
– 71 regular season appearances over four seasons with Whitecaps FC
– Led Whitecaps FC to first MLS Cup Playoff appearance in 2012
– Named to MLS All-Star First XI in 2012
– Started all four matches with the U.S. men’s national team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup
– Former captain with Watford FC, where he spent six seasons
– Scored game-winning goal in 2005-06 English Championship final to help Watford FC earn promotion to the English Premier League
“Throughout Jay’s career he has always given his all in everything he’s done, and that’s been evident since he joined us as our first MLS signing,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “On the field, you could always count on 100 per cent commitment. And off the field, Jay has played a tremendous role in growing our club and growing the sport. We are thankful for everything he helped us achieve in our first four years in MLS and look forward to what the future holds as he embarks on his new role with our club.”
DeMerit, 34, became Whitecaps FC’s first MLS signing on November 18, 2010, after spending six seasons with Watford FC and starting all four matches with the U.S. men’s national team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Since then, the inaugural MLS club captain made 77 appearances in all competitions and helped Vancouver to their first-ever MLS Cup Playoff match in 2012.
After re-signing with Whitecaps FC on January 20, DeMerit started each of his 11 MLS appearances this season before suffering a torn tendon in his left ankle in a 3-3 draw with Philadelphia Union on June 7.
Last season, DeMerit went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon minutes into Whitecaps FC’s season opener onMarch 2. After months of rehabilitation, he returned to action as a substitute on September 14, 2013, against San Jose Earthquakes and was named Budweiser Man of the Match. The Green Bay, Wisconsin native went on to start the club’s remaining six matches.
DeMerit’s second season in MLS was highlighted by a number of first-time achievements. In 2012, he scored his first MLS goal to help Whitecaps FC capture their first road win in MLS, he became the first Whitecaps FC player to appear in an MLS All-Star Game, and he captained the Blue and White to their first-ever MLS Cup Playoff appearance.
Before joining Whitecaps FC in their inaugural MLS campaign in 2011, DeMerit enjoyed six seasons with England’s Watford FC. He originally joined the Football League Championship side (second tier in England) in July 2004 following an impressive preseason friendly performance versus Watford as a trialist with semi-professional outfit Northwood FC of the Isthmian League Premier Division (seventh tier in England).
DeMerit quickly became a regular starter with Watford and helped the Hertfordshire-based club earn promotion to the English Premier League by scoring the match-winning goal in the 2005-06 Championship playoff final over Leeds United FC. In total, DeMerit started 193 of 213 appearances in all competitions with The Hornets and scored 10 goals during that period.
The defender also played the 2003-04 season with Southall FC of the Combined Counties Football League (ninth tier in England), and spent one season with Chicago Fire Premier of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League in 2001. At the collegiate level, he was a starter at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the NCAA Division I from 1998 to 2001.
Internationally, DeMerit earned 25 official caps with the U.S. men’s national team. Despite suffering a serious eye injury just months prior, the American centre back started all four of his country’s matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and helped the U.S. finish first in their group for the first time since 1930. DeMerit was also a member of the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup winning side and helped the U.S. reach the finals of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.