DeMerit's 'character, desire, and willingness' key in club's decision to bring him back

Robinson on DeMerit's injury: "Everyone wrote him off"

VANCOUVER, BC – The captain is back.

After a busy week for Vancouver Whitecaps FC, in which the club chose three players in the first two rounds of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and completed the sale of Camilo Sanvezzo, Whitecaps FC announced on Monday that centre back Jay DeMerit has re-signed. 

DeMerit talks to media about re-signing with Whitecaps FC

Sitting in front of a Whitecaps FC backdrop, DeMerit's bright smile was an interesting juxtaposition with the Camilo situation that ended with the Brazilian transferring to Mexican club Queretaro FC on Friday. 

“As individual players, you're in charge of your career and what you want to do with it,” DeMerit told reporters at the club's downtown Vancouver offices on Monday. “He chose to choose a different path than being a career guy with the Whitecaps, and I would say, myself, I'm choosing the other path.

“I'm happy to be on that path and look forward to keeping that going.”

Having just turned 34 in December, DeMerit is now set to enter his fourth season with the 'Caps. The Green Bay, Wisconsin native has been lauded for his combative play – in 2012, he was selected for the MLS All-Star team and helped lead the 'Caps to the playoffs for the first time.

He's featured 60 times in league play for Whitecaps FC during his three seasons. But during that stint he struggled with two serious injuries.

This past season, DeMerit ruptured his Achilles tendon just minutes into the season opener and did not return to action until September 14, when he was named Budweiser Man of the Match for a gutsy performance in a scoreless draw with San Jose Earthquakes. The centre back native went on to play all 540 minutes of the club’s remaining six matches. 

Naturally, there will be some that have concerns about his recent injury history. But for new head coach Carl Robinson, the injuries themselves were irrelevant. The decision to bring DeMerit back was based on the way the player was able to return from those setbacks.

“I think it shows a little bit about his character,” Robinson told reporters. “Everyone wrote him off -- and maybe me included -- last year because he had a horrific injury on the first day of the season. But he showed his desire, his willingness. The energy he's got in him when he came into training every day to try and get back to fitness was phenomenal.

“As you get older, it's no secret that it's draining. But I didn't see that in Jay. I saw a fresh faced young guy, coming in and trying to prove people wrong, and that's certainly what he did. He got back into the team at the end of the year and he was a rock again. Based on that, his desire and character . . . it was the right decision for us as a club.”

Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.