Jay DeMerit, who was a fixture in the USA defense during the 2010 World Cup and whose improbable career path gave him as unique a rise and story as there is in American soccer, announced his retirement on Thursday.
DeMerit, the Vancouver Whitecaps' 34-year-old. captain, wrote an open letter to Whitecaps fans, citing a second serious ankle tendon tear in 15 months as his reason for stepping away from the game. DeMerit, the club's first MLS player signing prior to its 2011 expansion season, will remain with the team in an ambassador's role.
Six weeks ago, I ruptured a second tendon in my ankle in a 15-month timespan – and things aren’t looking good. Last year, I battled back from an achilles rupture in fewer than six months, proving doubters and naysayers wrong once again, like I have time and time again from the moment I stepped on that plane 11 years ago. But this new injury is proving to be too much to come back from.
Even if I was to get back to a level where I could potentially play again, I would be putting at risk the reputation that I have spent so many years trying to create, and I won’t do that. I’ve never taken the field just because I can. I’m either all in or all out. I take the field because I’m ready and able to give my all, to fight for my teammates, and give a committed performance for my club or my country.
I’ve always been the kind of player who wears his heart on his sleeve – and it’s that heart that is telling me it’s time to stop. If I can’t be the player that I have always been, and play to a standard that I believe is high enough, then it’s time for me to smile, say thank you, and give my commitment to a new cause.
DeMerit earned 26 caps for the USA, starting all four games in South Africa in the 2010 World Cup and the 2009 Confederations Cup semifinal upset of Spain. His unusual career is detailed in the 2011 documentary "Rise and Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story." He began his ascent from England's ninth division, eventually earning his way to Watford in the League Championship after a trial and scoring a goal in the promotion playoffs to secure the club's place in the Premier League.