Hey Packer Fans – Why You MUST Watch World Cup Soccer

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A lot of NFL football fans love to make fun of soccer. It’s a sport for little foreigners running around in shorts. It’s boring. There’s not enough scoring. It’s a crazy, no-hands sport where you purposely use your head – literally.

Well,  regardless of what you think of soccer, you have to support your country, right? During the Olympics, you watched figure skating and rooted for the Americans, right? Well, maybe not figure skating, but you get my point.

But besides rooting for your country, Green Bay Packer fans have an additional reason to be watching when the USA plays England in their opening match on Saturday, June 12 (2:30ET).  And that reason is a devoted Green Bay Packer fan named Jay Demerit.

Jay Demerit is a starting central defender for the USA Mens Team.  Demerit is also an obsessed Packer fan just like you or I. Despite playing professional soccer in England, Demerit watched every Packer game but three. Whether on SKY TV or live streamed over the internet, Demerit made sure to seek out Packer games at every opportunity, only missing a game when he had, well, a soccer game to play.

Demerit is a Green Bay native, a Sconnie, a beer and brat loving product of the Green Bay school system. A three sport star at Bay Port High School, Demerit earned varsity letters in three sports; football, soccer, and track and field.

Like any boy playing HS football in Green Bay, his dream would have been to play in legendary Lambeau Field. While that was not to be, he will now be playing on the biggest international sporting stage, the FIFA World Cup.

What makes his story even better is the fact that his ascension to the National team is as unlikely a story as you’ll ever see. It would be like a young kid from England coming to the USA, making it onto the Packers and end up starting in the Super Bowl. Yes, that improbable.

Jay Demerit played soccer at the University of Illinois – Chicago for four years. Upon graduation, he was ignored in the Major League Soccer (MLS) draft. In addition, no team would even give him a tryout. But Demerit was undeterred.

He emptied his bank account of $1800, bought a plane ticket to England, and was determined to follow his crazy dream.  He slept in the attic of a friend’s house and played in pub leagues and other very-low level leagues. He eventually made it onto a Southhall team 8 levels below the English Premier League (EPL) where he was payed a whopping $30 a week,

But Demerit kept at it. He worked harder than anyone else and moved up a few levels to a slightly better team, He showed enough there to got noticed by Watford, a 2nd division team in the EPL. He was invited to a tryout, eventually was offered a contract and earned significant game minutes playing in real soccer stadiums, in front of paying customers.

Demerit had an excellent season, and capped it off with a magical moment. Watford had won enough games to be considered for promotion to the first division of EPL, where world-renowned teams like Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal ply their trade.

In a playoff game against Leeds, which would decide which team advances to the first division, Jay Demerit scored the game-winning goal to the sheer delight of all of Watford. That moment in Watford history is now known as the “10 million pound goal” – the estimated financial reward tiny Watford would earn for playing in the first division.

Of Demerit, USA National Team coach Bob Bradley says, “Jay could have given up and done something else with his life. He is an intelligent guy who would have been a success in whatever he decided to do. It gives you a warm feeling to see someone like that, who just went out there and backed themselves, getting rewarded.”

As Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated wrote in this article, “How many Yanks go from mid-major college soccer to starting in the Premier League? From not being drafted by MLS to scoring a historic goal in front of 65,000 fans last May? From toiling in obscurity–DeMerit had never played for a U.S. team at any level–to staring down renowned strikers such as Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney and Andriy Shevchenko?”

“Jay DeMerit came from nothing and made a decision to be something,” says Aidy Boothroyd, the Watford manager. “He’s the Rocky Balboa of English football.”

So anti-soccer Packer fans, do you need any other reasons? Are you ready to put your soccer prejudices aside, root for a Green Bay hometown boy and cheer on the USA? What, you need more Packer-related reasons? OK, here goes:

You haven’t seen Jay Demerit’s name in a Wisconsin newspaper recently for being an ass.

Despite being a professional athlete playing another sport in another country, he makes every effort he can to watch every Packers game.

Elton John (Watford’s former President), sought him out to ask his opinion of whether Brett Favre should leave the Packers. (Evidently, Elton John is a friend of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and showed up wearing two Super Bowl rings, letting Demerit try one on). Pretty cool.

Jay Demerit takes a “Packers Quiz” and aces it. (for you doubters…)

If it makes you feel better, technically, Demerit is a “Football” player.

Good enough? So  I’m calling on all of you out there in Packer Nation that would normally never watch a soccer game. Bite the bullet, watch the USA play,  root for Jay Demerit, root for your country and keep an open mind. Who knows, you might even enjoy it.

More Jay Demerit stuff:

He has recorded a song, called “Soccer Rocks.” You can listen to it here.

Jay Demerit’s Facebook Page (come on Packer fans, give him a “like”)


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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.


25 thoughts on “Hey Packer Fans – Why You MUST Watch World Cup Soccer

  1. yup – yesterday’s games were awesome.
    1-1 and 0-0.
    that’s like a goal every 100 minutes.
    glad i didn’t watch any of it.

  2. Damn right Al. The SI article is wrong, though. Neither Henry nor Shevschenko play in the EPL anymore…

    BTW, totally wrong about the ref. Guess because he’s retiring, he want to go out on top…

    1. That article was from a few years ago, so it was accurate when written.

      Yes, dead wrong on the ref. He did a great job and gave no breaks to England.

  3. I’ll try to catch the matches involving the US, and I always watch the semis and the final. I didn’t watch yesterday’s tilt with England, but I’m just tickled that we got a draw out of it. I wouldn’t call myself a fan by any means, but I don’t mind watching. My only problem with soccer is the pathetic theatrics involved when these guys “flop” to try to draw a penalty. Drives me absolutely nuts. I can’t stand it in all sports, really, but soccer is currently the poster child for this ridiculous behavior. Good luck to the ol’ USA. We’ll need it.

    1. One thing Ruppert, in the World Cup, referees are much less tolerant of the fake injuries. They’ve been instructed to look for it and call it properly. In the games I’ve seen so far, the referees have done an excellent job. I agree with you that it’s a turn-off, so I’m happy they’re trying to eliminate it, too.

      1. HA! Wait until Brazil plays, Cristiano Ronaldo plays or until Argentina has a difficult match! Those guys are such good actors that the refs will call it every time (YES, I hold a grudge against refs!)

        1. Certainly, those are the professional divers, but the referee in the Argentina game did a great job controlling that. We’ll see if it continues.

  4. Well done Al,

    Love soccer (football) as well as American football and this article makes me even happier that USA tied England. I have a friend in the UK who is currently striking Green from his Christmas list. Love to see these guys go “to war” and keep winning against the greats. OK, it was just a tie against England but that was a win for us upstarts!

    1. I’ve been following the USMNT for 30 years. While I’m still disappointed that our individual ball skills have not progressed quicker, this is the first year where I feel most of the players out there think they belong. Sometimes fitness, effort and attitude can make up for a disparity in skills. We’ll see…

      1. Remember that elbow hit from Leonardo in 94′? Leonardo was as a class act as there is, but he let emotions get the best of him. And that was a damn hard game, by then I thought that in a few years the US would’ve been a very good team. Guess that it was just because you were at home, possibly…

  5. I totally get it when people say it’s boring but its because they don’t know what to watch for. I was fortunate to spend my high school years living in London where I grew to appreciate watching a good soccer match.
    But I have to admit, it took awhile to appreciate the subtleties that make up an incredibly exciting game.
    Watching a good defensive takeaway or a missed chance on goal is almost as exciting as a goal itself.
    You say you’re disappointed in the USA individual ball skills, when I watch the U.S. it doesn’t seem to be the ball skills per se, its that they lack a flow to their game that the elite teams have. Plays take too long to develop and too many touches but I agree wholeheartedly that the USA team looks like they belong in the World Cup this year.

    1. Flow and too many touches is a direct result of poor ball skills. When you can’t hold onto the ball in tight spaces and keep giving the ball away, there is no flow.

  6. Hey, Al. As this is the post about soccer, I’ll say it in here.

    The judge from the US game this friday has released the motive why he called a faul in US’ third goal: He saw Weapons of Mass Destruction…

    BTW, I told you the refs were gonna screw it up. It just happened against the wrong opponent.

  7. Jay! Jay! Jay for the USA!

    Jay Demerit is the man. I also went to high school at Bay Port and played soccer for four years there. Jay’s father was my coach for a couple of those years and we managed to win the Bay Conference (as it was known at the time) for four straight years. I’m so proud of Jay for what he has accomplished. Remembering how I felt when the ’94 world cup was held in the states, I NEVER would’ve thought that a Green Bay guy would be STARTING every match and anchoring the US defense against the best in the world…..and winning!

    Here’s to the USA, Jay, and everything good and fair that comes out of GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN!

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