Before you start reading this post I must add a little bit of a disclaimer. If you are a regular listener of From The Backline you know that I am a big and unapologetic supporter of Jay DeMerit for his contributions on and off the pitch during his tenure as a Whitecap. OK, you know where this is heading so don't say that you were not warned. Carry on, then.
If one wants to analyze Jay DeMerit's career as a Whitecap, it is necessary to break it down into two major components: on the pitch and off the pitch.
As a player, DeMerit's career as a Whitecap was heavily diminished by injuries. However, 2012 was his best year in the center of the Whitecaps back line. Healthy for the most part, DeMerit was able to play at a level that deservedly sent him to the MLS All-Star game where he represented the Whitecaps along with players like Thierry Henry, David Beckham and Landon Donovan.
DeMerit's style of play is certainly not everyone's cup of tea. He compensated for his lack of technical finesse with an imposing physical presence, solid game in the air, relentless hard work, inspiring leadership and, of course, those perfectly timed sliding tackles that excited half the crowd while the other half cringed.
It was that determination that made DeMerit work extra hard to come back from the devastating Achilles tear that he suffered only six minutes into the 2013 season. For many, that injury would be career-ending. Not only did DeMerit come back from the injury in record time, but he earned his spot back in the starting XI.
Jay DeMerit has been one of the most polarizing players in the Whitecaps squad in the last few years. However, of equal importance (perhaps, more?) is the role that DeMerit has played as the face of this MLS franchise. He was a representative of the team, the league and the sport in this city and province, and was even (let's be honest here) employed as a successful marketing tool. Perhaps it is his charismatic personality or the fact that, as my coworker put it, he is "dashingly handsome," or maybe it is because his wife is a local sporting hero herself, but DeMerit has gained the affection of hardcore and casual supporters alike.
I have my own personal DeMerit story. In 2012, after a home win against Dallas, my wife and I were leaving a North Shore restaurant when Jay walked in. He commented on my Whitecaps sweater. Unbeknownst to him was the fact that under that sweater I was wearing my ‘Caps jersey with the ‘6' on the back. He stopped and we chatted for a few minutes ending with him thanking me for the support and high-fiving me for commuting from Whistler to each home game.
When I look back, I really feel that DeMerit's legacy with the Whitecaps has been a successful and positive one, and it is great to know that Jay will remain involved with the club in a role that he has proven to do very well.
Injuries have given the squad time to figure out how to play without DeMerit in the lineup, and by the looks of it Pedro Morales will inherit the captain's armband. But now the Whitecaps need to find that player who will become the new face of the franchise.
All in all, thank you Jay for all of what you have done for this team, and I hope to see you around.