VANCOUVER, B.C. – Disappointing season, exciting future. Those were Jay DeMerit’s sentiments following the Vancouver Whitecaps final match of their first Major League Soccer season.
“It was a frustrating year, there’s no hiding that fact,” DeMerit told MLSsoccer.com after Saturday’s finale. “But the fans that stayed back, and waited for us to come and praise them, shows us what we have here, and that’s a bright future.”
DeMerit explains that although the future is bright, he had hoped for a little more success in the side’s inaugural campaign.
“Nobody said this season was going to be easy – nobody said we’d do things right away,” DeMerit said. “These types of successes that you long for, that you try to set as goals – it’s very rare that they happen in the first season, and we were victim to that unfortunately.”
The US international has previously compared this campaign with his relegation season with Watford in the English Premier League in terms of the mental toll it’s taken on players. This year, the added issue of a series of groin injuries made things even more challenging individually.
But DeMerit felt that when he did play, he performed well, especially as the ‘Caps seemed to find a higher level of play after moving into BC Place.
“When I was out there, I did exactly what I wanted to do and what I came here to do,” DeMerit said. “That was to be out there with the guys, lead from the front and put in a hard-working, committed performance.”
But he also lamented the injuries which kept him sidelined for vast swathes of the season, and hopes his lucks turns around next year.
“To not be out there for over a third of the season was a little bit disappointing, but to come back at the end of the season and get a few wins and be a part of those was huge from me," he said. "That gives me faith that hopefully those injuries are behind me and I can now build on what we created here at the end of the season.”
For a team that finished the season in last place, the Whitecaps had many spectacular highlights, from Eric Hassli’s wonder strike against the Seattle Sounders on Jun. 11, to Davide Chiumiento’s tantalizing spinning volley against the New York Red Bulls on Sept. 10.
Going into next season, the goal is to find a bit of steadiness and consistency.
“The last thing you want to ever be as a team is unpredictable,” DeMerit said. “You want to be a team that’s solid, you want to be a team that shows committed, 100-percent performances every week. In this league, that gets you results and that keeps you in playoff spots. That needs to be the goal for us, always, moving forward.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.