VANCOUVER, B.C. – When Jay DeMerit came to play in Vancouver ahead of the 2011 season, he said it was the place he wanted to finish his career.
After three seasons with the Whitecaps, and his contract set to expire at the end of the year, nothing has changed on that front for the center back and club captain.
“That's been my goal all along,” the 33-year-old said after season-ending fitness testing at the University of British Columbia on Thursday. “We'll hopefully get something done. Obviously, with a new manager coming in, that creates a new element, of course, on both sides of the ball.
“You don't want, as a player, to be here, if the manager doesn't want you here and want you to be part of this organization or to play the role that I've played, which is a reality of what we do. But also, as a person, you want to make sure the manager's right. You want to work for that guy and be led by that guy, so those types of things will be coming in the next couple of weeks.”
The former US international missed much of this season after rupturing his Achilles tendon on opening day, but he returned strongly to play a part in his club's final six matches.
While the 'Caps ultimately missed the playoffs, DeMerit's individual play was typically infectious in the heat of the race to the playoffs. If there were any who thought the team didn't miss anything when the Green Bay native was out, it seems there were few with that opinion after seeing the impact upon his return.
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As for the state of the squad, DeMerit believes the side isn't far off from contending for an MLS Cup if the right man is appointed as coach and the appropriate player moves are made.
“I think it's very close,” DeMerit said of the 'Caps becoming one of the Western Conference's best. “We've proved on many occasions this year that we can beat the best. … The lack of consistency was the key to why the season ended the way it did, but in saying that, the individual performances we had down the line from a lot of the guys this year were what you need to have success in this league.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.