The Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club announced Thursday it had signed American defenceman Jay DeMerit, former captain for Watford FC in the U.K.

The 30-year-old centre-back from Wisconsin will be the first player to join the Whitecaps, slated for their inaugural Major League Soccer season, starting in March.

Bob Lendarduzzi, Whitecaps FC president, said DeMerit’s leadership will be valuable on and off the field.

DeMerit said he felt like he made the right decision coming to play for the Whitecaps.

“Vancouver ticked pretty much every box that I could think of as what I wanted in a new move. It’s an aspiring club. It’s a challenge to be a leader on the field and off the field.”

The terms of the contract were not disclosed.