Loss of Jay DeMerit a blow to Vancouver Whitecaps, but not a crippling one
It’s a blow for Jay DeMerit as an individual, but the Vancouver Whitecaps have the personnel to manage.
That was the message from head coach Martin Rennie after the club announced its captain underwent surgery on a torn Achilles tendon on Monday.
“He’s going to be out for quite a long time,” Rennie told reporters on Monday. “Just really disappointed about that. It was nice to win on Saturday, but we knew right away it was quite a big blow and just hope that he gets better soon. He’s such an important player for the club and such a good person to have in your team, and our thoughts are with him.”
The Green Bay, Wisc., native suffered the rupture after jumping up for a header six minutes into Vancouver’s 1-0 opening-day win over Toronto FC.
It wasn’t an isolated incident, however, as DeMerit suffered from Achilles tendonitis throughout the 2012 season and had injections during this preseason after the problem flared up again. The 33-year-old was a doubt heading into Saturday’s match and the club only made it public he would play the day before the game.
Still, Rennie insists the decision to play DeMerit was not irresponsible.
“That wasn’t a likely risk,” Rennie said. “He trained all week and even last season his Achilles was sore at times. It’s just one of those things that can happen.”
The timeline for DeMerit’s return is murky, but players generally miss a minimum of four months after suffering similar tears. Rennie is hopeful his player’s natural athleticism means he’ll miss the minimum amount of time possible.
“The thing with Jay is that Jay’s a bit of a freak athlete,” Rennie said. “He’s one of those guys who always tests really well, always recovers really well. If he does the right things in the rehab and does the right things off the field for the time that he’s out then I have no doubt at all that he’ll be back.”
Despite the head coach’s hope that his captain will make a speedy recovery, Rennie insists he has plenty of cover at center back to partner Andy O’Brien. Offseason signing Brad Rusin replaced DeMerit on Saturday and had a solid debut, and Honduran Olympic captain Johnny Leverón, also a center back, is finalizing his papers and will soon be available for selection.
“From a team perspective, Jay’s obviously an important person and player for our team,” Rennie said. “But I actually think we can cover in that sense. It’s more just a disappointment for him. Obviously it’s the first few minutes of the game and the first few minutes of the season, but we have people who can play in those positions and we do have good leadership on our team.
“So we’ll be able to go forward strong and obviously it’s a blow but I don’t think it’s something we need to use as an excuse.”