The Vancouver Whitecaps didn't make the playoffs, but their season wasn't a total write off. Progress was even made.
That's the assessment of club captain Jay DeMerit, who spent much of the 2013 campaign watching from the sidelines after rupturing his Achilles tendon on opening day before coming back to play a part in his side's final six games of the season.
“I definitely wouldn't call this season a failure, if I'm honest,” the center back said after a training session on Wednesday at the University of British Columbia. “You set goals early on, not just about making the playoffs, but about winning games, keeping goals out of the net, winning Cascadia Cups, all those types of things.
“Obviously playoffs is the big one, so that's what the spotlight's on, and that's why there's more disappointment than usual. And why the 'failure' word starts to creep into conversations.”
The 33 year old echoed some of the lines head coach Martin Rennie has been trotting out since the side's elimination from postseason contention last weekend, citing their club-record, 12-win season, among other milestones achieved this year.
“For us, we had more wins than last year,” DeMerit said. “Is this season a failure? Are we continuing to not grow as a club? I wouldn't say so. We won the Cascadia Cup for the first time. There are all sorts of things that we had never done before that we have done this season. But saying that, the natural thing to be is disappointed because we didn't make the playoffs.
“We all need to be held accountable for that, and that's the nature of the business.”
As for Sunday's home match against the Colorado Rapids (8 pm ET; MLS Live), which is Vancouver's last of the 2013 campaign, DeMerit said the side will approach the game as if it were any competitive match, despite the fact that they have nothing tangible to play for.
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On an individual level, the Green Bay, Wisc., native shrugged off a question about his ability to come back and make a noticeable impact despite the severity of his Achilles injury.
“There's only one way I play and there's only one way I go to work,” DeMerit said. “That's as hard as I can, being committed to my job and committed to being out on the field because that's where I feel like my true worth is.
“To get back out on the field and contribute in this final phase of the season was great.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.