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Vancouver Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit to retire from soccer

Vancouver Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit looks on after losing 1-0 to Real Salt Lake during MLS soccer action in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday September 28, 2013. DeMerit will announce his retirement Thursday, The Canadian Press has confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

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Vancouver Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit looks on after losing 1-0 to Real Salt Lake during MLS soccer action in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday September 28, 2013. DeMerit will announce his retirement Thursday, The Canadian Press has confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER - Vancouver Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit will announce his retirement Thursday, The Canadian Press has confirmed.

A person with knowledge of the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Whitecaps will hold a news conference to announce that DeMerit, Vancouver's first-ever Major League Soccer signing, is retiring after three-plus seasons with the team.

DeMerit struggled with injuries in the 2013 and 2014 campaigns, Most recently, the centre back tore a tendon in his left ankle in a 3-3 draw with the Philadelphia Union on June 12. He was expected to miss six-to-eight weeks.

He played 11 games this season — all as a starter.

He missed most of 2013 with a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the season opener against Toronto FC in early March. Two days after suffering the injury at B.C. Place Stadium, he sought to reassure fans by tweeting a photo of himself in his hospital bed while preparing to go into surgery.

After months of rehabilitation with a physiotherapist, DeMerit returned to the lineup in mid-September and played eight games near the end of the season. The successful rehab effort earned him a new contract from the Whitecaps in January of this year after he and the club took a wait-and-see approach with his recovery.

DeMerit, a 34-year-old Green Bay, Wisc., native who was signed by the Whitecaps in 2010 when Vancouver was preparing to enter MLS, also played for the English soccer club Watford for six seasons.

He also played 25 international games with the United States, including starting in four matches at the 2010 World Cup.

Known for strong defensive and leadership skills, positive attitude and unselfish approach to the game, DeMerit posted one goal and one assist in 71 career games — 69 of which he started — with the Whitecaps. He logged a total of 5,928 minutes during his MLS career.

He also gained notoriety off the pitch by marrying former Canadian Olympic skier Ashleigh McIvor last summer.

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