VANCOUVER, BC – Jay DeMerit has achieved a lot in the game of soccer, and now he can add another honour to the resume.
On Sunday, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC captain was named to the 2012 MLS All-Star First XI, which will represent the league in a match against English Premier League side Chelsea at PPL Park in Chester, Pa., on July 25.
The First XI is chosen by fans, and DeMerit won’t necessarily start the match – that decision lies with All-Star coach Ben Olsen, but he will be part of the 32-man squad either way.
“It’s great,” DeMerit told reporters after a training session at Burnaby Lake field on Monday. “Any time you get a chance to go into something like that it’s an honour and a privilege to be voted in.
“Hopefully I can go in and represent the Whitecaps well. These things come with a group effort. You don’t have success without your teammates so a big thanks goes out to them as well.”
DeMerit credits his improved performances this season to his ability to stay healthy – at just past the halfway mark of this campaign he’s only 141 minutes away from eclipsing his 2011 total time on the pitch after struggling with groin and adductor problems – as well as having higher quality teammates on the backline in Martín Bonjour and Young-Pyo Lee.
“It’s a lot easier to maintain your consistency when you’re out there every week and playing every minute,” DeMerit said. “That’s the first step. Second, the additions we’ve added has allowed me to concentrate on my job a little bit more instead of trying to always dictate what others have to do – or instruct others – which can take away from your game.
“I think the combination of all those has allowed me to have a little bit better season and hopefully we can continue that on all levels.”
The Green Bay, Wisc., native has helped Vancouver keep nine clean sheets in MLS play, often playing the leading role in a defensive unit which has largely been responsible for the club’s current fourth-place position in the Western Conference.
“It’s a team effort,” head coach Martin Rennie said. “He’s been our captain and a good leader for us and he’s played consistently very well since I’ve been here. It’s been a well deserved reward for him and I think it represents the team and especially the defensive side of our game very well, because we have been one of the best defensive teams in the league and he’s been a big part of that.”
Clarke returns from Germany
Whitecaps academy product Caleb Clarke, who recently signed a deal to play with the first team, is back training with Vancouver after picking up an injury while on trial with German third-division side Rot-Weiss Erfurt.
The 'Caps were hoping to loan Clarke out for a year to give him more game time, but because of that injury it now looks as if the German side has lost interest.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.