VANCOUVER – Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Thursday unveiled Jay DeMerit as the first building block of their Major League Soccer roster. There’s still much work to be done before the organization can put a competitive team out on the field, but the club is working hard to find a winning formula.
“First and foremost, before you even think about the positions, you look for the right blend of youth and the right blend of experience,” said Tom Soehn, Whitecaps director of soccer operations. “You look to put the experience in parts of the field that will benefit everybody the most.”
DeMerit has experience aplenty. The US international has played professionally for nearly a decade and represented his country at the World Cup this past summer. The fact that he plays defense fits right into head coach Teitur Thordason’s plan.
“I always look to build a team from the back in order to have good defensive organization, players who will build the spine of the team,” Thordason said. “I look for players who are winners, who will battle hard and never give up, and are not afraid to win tackles.”
The fact that DeMerit captained Watford his last three seasons only sweetens the deal.
“I look for leadership quite a bit,” Thordason said. “For me it’s important to have good leaders, not only one leader on the field, but many.”
The Whitecaps will now look to surround DeMerit with other quality players who will allow them to find immediate success in every competition in which they participate next season.
“We want to be successful in tournaments, and to do that you need to have a big roster, but you also need a deep roster, everybody capable of pulling minutes,” Soehn said. “The teams that now find success in MLS are deep and have several options, so it’s important for us to build a deep roster.”
While Soehn aims to create the best team in the league, he realises that sustaining success won’t be easy.
“I think what you’ll find is a constant rotation, and that’s what a league of parity is built on,” Soehn said. “Teams that do well have a hard time keeping that team together because everyone’s warranted more salary.”
Despite this parity, expectations will be high for the Whitecaps, not only this year, but well into the future, and Soehn will do his best to ensure the team’s success.
“I think it comes down to the teams that work the hardest,” Soehn said. “Making sure the players you bring in are adapted and have the qualities to sustain a long career, providing the proper things medically to make sure your guys are staying healthy, scouting the best, doing all the things that you can do to make sure that you’re setting yourself up to succeed outside of the standard things that everyone else has.”