Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ex-Fire PDL's DeMerit defies odds

Jay DeMerit -- Getty Images
Soccer players have their unique paths to get to the professional ranks, but Vancouver Whitecaps FC defender Jay DeMerit's is as rare as they come.

The former University of Illinois-Chicago standout and one-time Chicago Fire Reserves player has seen it all, and paved his way when the elements did not look so favorable.

DeMerit was not a part of U.S. Soccer's youth system. He joined UIC on a partial scholarship, which took some doing to even get that. He played for the Fire's development team, but was not picked up by a Major League Soccer club. And the most defying stunt was heading to Europe with less than $2,000 in his pocket and hoping to launch a playing career.

Anyone who has remotely followed the Green Bay, Wis., native's journey knows that DeMerit eventually reached greener pastures, spending seven seasons with England's Watford FC, and highlighted by his playoff goal against Leeds to thrust Watford into the Premier League in 2006.

"My path is very rare. I never even tried out for a national team," DeMerit said of his youth playing days. "I was one of the rare ones that just always played sports. At UIC, they have a good soccer community and good soccer structure. I never tried to branch out to ODP (Olympic Development Program). I was just working hard and concentrating on other things in life. I had very limited soccer experience as a 23-year-old grad, getting offers to A-League teams, the Milwaukee Rampage, without any experience."


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