His health was questionable heading into the season opener, and now the worst has been confirmed. Jay Demerit, Captain of the Vancouver Whitecaps and one of the most important members of the starting 11 has torn his achilles tendon, and his recovery time could be six to eight months.
Demerit, who is entering the third and final year of his contract, injured himself just seven minutes into the Whitecaps match against Toronto FC.
What does this mean for the Whitecaps? Well, their depth on the backline is going to be tested, with Brad Rusin stepping into the spot for the time being. Rusin performed very well in Demerit's stead in the match, and it will be interesting to see if he can keep up that level of play. The young Johnny Leveron, who 'Caps fans have been itching to see since his signing, has apparently had VISA issues and is training with the Carolina Railhawks to get into game shape (Per Marc Weber of the Province). So, it could be a little bit before he sees the pitch for Vancouver, and for now, it's Rusin's spot to lose.
It also means that the Whitecaps will get to prove they are a different squad from 2011 quite early. Here's the thing; when Demerit went down in the past, the 'Caps backline became a scrambly mess, and the team generally struggled. They went 0-2 last season when Demerit sustained a concussion on Aug.11th and was out until August 24th. I won't even go into 2011, because, well, that team doesn't need to invite any comparisons. So, now they can prove that they can win without their Captain and leader, and prove that this club has other players that can step up and get the job done in a crucial position.
What does this say about Demerit's future with the club? He's 33 years old now, and his contract expires after this season. No question, when Demerit is on the pitch, he's one of the Whitecaps' most valuable players. However, he's missed significant time with injuries in both the 2011 and now, the 2013 seasons. He's injury prone, but he's a damn good soccer player. Demerit loves it here and it's easy to assume that he'll want to stay. However, do the 'Caps want an aging center back with an injury history, when they have guys like Johnny Leveron waiting in the wings? That's a question for the end of the season, but still one that needs to be asked.
Head Coach Martin Rennie said that Demerit is a fast healer during training today, so that 6-8 month timeline isn't a certainty. However, Demerit will be out for an extended period of time and the club will have to get used to playing without him.
Hopefully, this is the only major injury the 'Caps need to deal with on the backline this season. One more, and things could get ugly.