VANCOUVER, BC – It seems Jay DeMerit’s long and arduous road to recovery is just about complete.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie told reporters Thursday at UBC that “there’s a chance” DeMerit could crack the first team’s 18-man gameday roster Saturday against Los Angeles Galaxy.
It would be the ‘Caps captain’s first selection since suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in Vancouver’s March 2 regular season opener.
“It’s great,” DeMerit told whitecapsfc.com earlier this week. “When you start to feel normal again is when you know you’re a little bit through the woods … I’m starting to feel normal again.”
It’s been about a month since DeMerit started participating in full training with the first team and there haven’t been any lingering issues. The focus has been on trying to regain his match fitness.
The 33-year-old centre back has been putting in extra time with the club’s physiotherapists before and after almost every training session. He’s usually on the field long after his teammates have left, sprinting and working on his agility.
“We’re very close,” DeMerit said Thursday after training. “Now it’s just a matter of continuing to turn that screw and refine and make sure every day we’re improving. I’m looking forward to doing that. ”
A major step in DeMerit’s recovery process came earlier this week when he appeared in a scrimmage against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. The Green Bay, Wisconsin native played the full 70 minutes as the ‘Caps reserves played to a 2-2 draw with the Canadian Interuniversity Sport outfit.
“Getting some real quality minutes the other day has helped my own confidence and I think it’s helped the coaching staff’s confidence,” DeMerit said. “It’s just a good feeling to feel like you’re athletic again … but by no means do I think I’m back to my best.”
At this point, DeMerit is still unsure when he’ll draw back into the ‘Caps lineup. He had previously targeted this Saturday’s match against the Galaxy, which also happens to fall on the eve of his wedding with Canadian Olympic ski cross gold medalist Ashleigh McIvor.
After the match, DeMerit and company will make the trip to Whistler in advance of Sunday’s ceremony. A few ‘Caps players and coaches are slated to attend the wedding and the entire team is invited to the evening reception.
“Match before marriage” – that was DeMerit’s mission, as the Vancouver Sun described it. Whether or not the mission is accomplished, the ‘Caps skipper is just pleased with the progress he’s made over the last few months.
“To be back and playing and training … I think that was where I would want to be,” he said. “I never knew the level that it would take to get back to game shape, but to be where I am now with the wedding game right here … I’ll take it.”