Thursday, November 18, 2010

Whitecaps FC sign Jay DeMerit

Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced today the signing of American international and former Watford FC captain Jay DeMerit - pending his international transfer certificate. DeMerit becomes the first player named to the Whitecaps FC Major League Soccer roster. Per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

"Jay is a quality individual and leader - both on and off the pitch - and is the type of player we are looking to build our team with," said Bob Lenarduzzi, Whitecaps FC president. "He has excelled both at the club and international levels, and we are thrilled that Jay has joined Whitecaps FC as our first Major League Soccer player signing."

Internationally, DeMerit has earned 23 caps with the United States of America, and most recently started all four matches for his country during last summer's FIFA World Cup. The 30-year-old centre back helped the USA finish first in Group C and advance to the knockout stages before falling in extra time to Ghana. As a member of the top-ranked CONCACAF nation, DeMerit started all five matches in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and helped form the backbone of the Stars and Stripes' defence that reached the tournament final against Brazil. The native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, made his international debut against Guatemala in March 2007.

At club level, DeMerit enjoyed six outstanding seasons with England's Watford FC. He originally joined the Football League Championship side (second tier in England) in July 2004 following an impressive preseason friendly performance versus Watford as a trialist with semi-professional outfit Northwood FC of the Isthmian League Premier Division (seventh tier in England). Watford’s manager during that time was Ray Lewington, who was a starting midfielder for Whitecaps FC during the club’s 1979 North American Soccer League championship season.

DeMerit became an instant starter with Watford and helped the Hertfordshire-based club earn promotion to the English Premier League by scoring the match-winning goal in the 2005-06 Championship playoff final over Leeds United FC. Watford returned to The Championship the following season, and in December 2007, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound defender was named team captain. Following the 2008-09 season, DeMerit received the Community Ambassador award in recognition of his charity and community work with Watford.

Last season with Watford, DeMerit played in 27 league matches and one Football Association Cup match. As a member of The Hornets, DeMerit made 213 appearances in all competitions, including 193 starts, and scored 10 goals.

"I am very thankful for my experiences with Watford FC and look forward to this new opportunity in Vancouver," added DeMerit. "Whitecaps FC have a tremendous history and great support in this beautiful city. After spending several seasons in England, I felt it was the right time to return to North America and I have been impressed by the Whitecaps FC organization and the vision they have as a club. I am excited to make Vancouver my new home."

Prior to his time with Watford, DeMerit played the 2003-04 season with Southall FC of the Combined Counties Football League (ninth tier in England), while in 2001, the defender played one season with Chicago Fire Premier of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League. From 1998 to 2001, he was a starter at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the NCAA Division I.

Jay DeMerit
Position: Defender
Height: 6-01
Weight: 180
Born: December 4, 1979, in Green Bay, Wisconsin
Hometown: Green Bay, Wisconsin
Last Club: Watford FC (English League Championship)
College: University of Illinois at Chicago
Citizenship: United States
How Acquired: Free agent signing by Whitecaps FC on November 18, 2010

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