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Jay DeMerit retires after 14-year career

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Jay DeMerit started at the bottom of American soccer, but played his way up, and eventually to the World Cup.

Jeff Vinnick

Jay DeMerit's soccer career is over. The defender has called it quits after 14 years, a run that included 25 caps for the United States.

DeMerit is arguably the best story in American soccer history. He came out of Green Bay and was unwanted by pretty much every college, let alone professional clubs. Even after a standout career for the University of Illinois Chicago, he still couldn't get a look from MLS teams so he went to Europe with almost no money and stayed with a friend's family while trying to catch on with a club. He finally did, joining up with a seventh division team. That proved to be his big break, as he got the chance to play against Watford in a friendly and impressed enough that the Hornets signed him.

Once at Watford, DeMerit's career took off. The Hornets were in the Championship, but the American helped them get up, famously scoring in the promotion playoff. DeMerit had gone from bumming around England trying to find a club, any club, to take him, to the Premier League.

By 2007, DeMerit had his first U.S. cap and in 2010, he started every match for the Americans at the World Cup. He had truly gone from the bottom of American soccer to the top of world soccer. He wasn't just a great story or a great guy, both of which he certainly was, but he was also a very good and important player for the national team.

Injuries have proven to be too much for DeMerit, who joined the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2011 and was the linchpin to their defense in his first two seasons, but even then, DeMerit battled injuries. It was a groin problem or a concussion, but it was the opening match of the 2013 season that really spelled the end of him. He tore his Achilles and played just eight matches last year, and then he tore a tendon in his ankle this season, bringing an end to his career.

Goodbye, Jay. You've been nothing but the best.