DeMerit: Dempsey signing good for all of MLS

Vancouver's captain says while Seattle's signing of Clint Dempsey makes the club's rivals stronger, players and fans on rival teams need to look at the "bigger picture."
VANCOUVER – Vancouver Whitecaps captain and former American international Jay DeMerit is telling the junior members of his club to look at Clint Dempsey as a model to emulate.

Dempsey's dramatic return to Major League Soccer this weekend has been drawing headlines this week – and rightfully so – and DeMerit says his former international teammate's journey from modest MLS pro to one of the English Premier League's most recognizable faces creates an excellent template for what players on this continent can achieve if they have the talent and the motivation.

“He's gone through a lot of adversity in his own life,” DeMerit said of the Seattle Sounders' latest signing after a Whitecaps training session at the University of British Columbia on Tuesday. “He's been counted out at times, he's been considered the best player at times. He's a guy that has dealt with everything. He has an amazing amount of experience and it's funny, because I was telling the young kids today – they were talking about the deal and talking about how much money it took to bring him back.

“But I said, 'Do you guys know that Clint was just like you guys five, 10 years ago.' Clint was a new player playing for the [New England] Revolution making very, very little money and to go and now on the backside, come and get the deal that he did – shows a lot about his character...and for the younger guys here, it's good to have role models that they can go and try to emulate.”

DeMerit, who has hardly kicked a ball this season after rupturing his Achilles tendon on opening day, has targeted an August return – and says he relishes the opportunity of squaring up against Dempsey should his return to action go as planned when Vancouver plays Seattle on October 9 at CenturyLink Field.

Further, while he acknowledges Dempsey's arrival isn't exactly a boost for the Whitecaps, who are in a tight Western Conference playoff race with the Sounders and basically everyone else but Chivas USA, the signing is ultimately a positive for soccer on this continent.

“I think sometimes you have to go beyond your own individual side or your team – you have to think of the bigger picture,” DeMerit said. “Having a guy like Clint with his qualities come back to this league shows that the league's growing and that's better for all of us.

“Fans, on a personal level, will say, 'oh, geez, Seattle just got a lot better and they're going to be tough to beat,' but ultimately they get to go watch Clint Dempsey play in MLS and guys of that caliber and that makes soccer better in North American and that's what we all want.”