Jay DeMerit Journal: Pulling out an ugly win

In his latest journal, the Vancouver Whitecaps defender says that his team is learning how to win ugly and talks about the great Manchester rivalry.

An “ugly win” is how I’ve described our 1-0 away win to the Columbus Crew a few times now. It’s a term that floats around in many sports circles. I would say that for any team sport, being able to win ugly is probably one of the best qualities a group can have.

Hopefully it’s not something you need to rely on week in and week out, but you need it on those certain nights when the game doesn’t flow, with the ball just going back and fourth from team to team without any real rhythm. Neither side is able to create the passes they need and nothing ever seems to stay in play.

Yeah, those games.

You just have to stay focused and battle it out for 90 minutes. You try, try and try again. Then you try again. If that doesn’t work out, well, you know what you have to do!

Those are the games that are not always fun to play, but good teams will find a way to stick at it and grind out an ugly win more often than not. That’s why it’s usually the same teams rising to the top each year in leagues around the world. Manchester United always seem to be able to get those three points points that are needed to stay at the top on a cold, windy and rainy day in Stoke because that's a great team that knows how to win ugly.

Don't get me wrong - I’m not saying the Whitecaps are Manchester United all of a sudden! But, in our away trips to LA, Chivas USA and Columbus, we have started to show signs that we can win ugly. And that is promising for our group. 

On the subject of Manchester United, it was amazing to learn that the derby game against City this week had over 650 million viewers worldwide – a staggering number, especially when you consider that ‘only’ 175 million tuned in to watch this year’s Superbowl. That a big portion of that number was made up of viewers from North America shows again that our sport continues to move in the right direction.

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For me, the English Premier League is most entertaining league in the world. No matter what, it always seems to come down to the last few games for the title. And, by ‘winning ugly’ against its neighbors, City has made the run-in to the end of the season that much more entertaining for all of us neutral fans who don’t support either team.

Rivalries like the one between United and City are such a huge part of the lifeblood of soccer. The way that a town or city can be split into two opposing camps is phenomenal. In England, there is no shortage of heated rivalries – I can think of 20 off the top of my head – and all in such a small country!

I'm happy that I got to be a part of that culture in England and I'm hoping we can start to create those derby-type atmospheres more in MLS. Up here in the Cascadia region, we already have a strong three-way rivalry between Portland, Seattle and the Whitecaps. The atmospheres at games between those teams just seem to have an extra edge and you can you can feel more passion in the air, which I love. So here's to creating more (friendly) rivalries! 

I didn't travel to Edmonton to play in the Canadian Cup this week because the manager wants to rest a few of us (old men). But it will be fun to watch as a fan and cheer on the guys – I’m really looking forward to it!

Since I have the day off by myself today, I'm going to seek out some culture – my mind usually thanks me for it! I’ll often check out the new collections at the Vancouver Art Gallery. There’s currently an exhibition of work by Emily Carr – a fantastic artist from the Pacific Northwest. Maybe I’ll find some inspiration for my next masterpiece!

Until next time, keep Rising and Shining.