VANCOUVER, B.C. – For Jay DeMerit, the 2012 season was one of bouncing back after taking a beating, physically and figuratively, in a painful 2011 expansion campaign for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
After playing just 1,671 minutes over 21 league matches as he struggled with recurring groin and adductor issues on the league’s worst team in 2011, the Green Bay, Wisc., native played the second-most minutes for the club this season, logging 2,726 minutes as Vancouver qualified for the MLS Cup playoffs.
“Just to be out there every game … I have a job to do here as an individual, and that’s why I’m here,” the centerback told MLSsoccer.com during a recent interview. “It’s to help the younger guys, and try and be one of the consistent guys out there that organizes and defends well and really competes against the best forwards in this league.
WATCH: DeMerit learns to tap dance
“It was just really nice to be able to be out there and do that, first and foremost.”
As an almost ever-present, playing in all but three of the club’s league matches, it was clear to see what the Whitecaps missed out on for large chunks of 2011, as the 32-year-old routinely dealt with opposition attacks in his uncompromising, athletic style.
And ultimately, it was the backline led by DeMerit which dragged the low-scoring Vancouver squad into the playoffs, as the team finished with the sixth-best defensive record in the league, conceding just 35 goals over the 34-game season.
“Overall, it was a good year,” DeMerit said. “You always look to improve on the previous year individually and team-wise, and in general if you look at how far we’ve come from this point last year, it’s miles beyond what I would have originally thought.”
DeMerit admits, however, that the second half of the season didn’t go entirely to plan, with the club enduring several difficult spells including a seven-game winless streak which finally came to an end in early October. But even that has a silver lining, according to the defender, who says as good as the Whitecaps were as a whole in 2012, there’s still more to come.
“There are things that could have gone better, so in a way, that’s the biggest positive,” DeMerit said. “We’ve come this far from where we were, yet all of us seem to think that there’s some natural disappointment about certain parts of this season.
“That’s a good thing, because those things can all improve, and I think we all believe we can too, and that’s the first step to getting better.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.