Jay Nolly: Goodbye And Thanks For The Memories

After four memorable years, Jay Nolly left Vancouver Whitecaps today to continue his MLS career with Chicago Fire.

Rumours began circulating on Friday that Nolly would be traded to the Eastern Conference side for allocation money.

Today it became official that he’d gone, but it was for a first round pick in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft. Not great value to us really.

We already eluded to this on Saturday’s blog post, but the move is an excellent one for Chicago.

Having put two of their existing keepers (Jon Conway and Alec Dufty) up for today’s MLS Re-Entry Draft, the Fire have put their faith solely in their highly rated 22 year old Sean Johnson.

Johnson is currently training with Everton and part of the US U23 set up, so there will be chances for Nolly to push for a starting spot if Johnson is away on international duty or is simply having a bad run.

Nolly is not on a huge salary ($65,000 in 2011), making him a very cheap option for Chicago, with minor impact on the salary cap. For very little money, they get a solid back-up with a four year, 22 appearance MLS record. At only 29, he also has a lot of years ahead of him in his footballing career.

It’s one of the harsh realities of football. Fan favourites move on. It’s always hard, especially so when the player doesn’t want to leave the Club.

The writing’s been on the wall for Jay for a few months now, ever since Tommy Soehn took charge of the team and immediately installed Joe Cannon as the number one keeper in Vancouver.

It’s best for Jay to move on and try his luck at a starting job elsewhere. That’s not to say that we’re not going to miss him, for AFTN, the Southsiders and a lot of Whitecaps fans most certainly will.

Jay Nolly joined the Whitecaps in January 2008. After an early tussle with Srdjan Djekanovic at the start of the 2008 USL season, Jay soon established himself as the Caps number one, going on to make 126 competitive appearances for Vancouver over four seasons.

His time in Vancouver was a memorable one both for the fans and for Jay as a player.

Winning the USL Championship in his first season with the Club was a particular career highlight.

This was the third career Championship Jay had won as a player, winning back to back NCAA Division One titles with Indiana University in 2003 and 2004.

Whilst with the Hoosiers, Jay was named in the All Big Ten team of the year for his last three seasons. He went on to make the 2010 USSF D2 Team of the Year with the Caps, along with being named the League’s Goalkeeper of the Year that season.

Nolly was also named the Whitecaps Most Valuable Player in both 2009 and 2010.

He became the Whitecaps player with the most consecutive appearances, when he played in the USSF D2 semi final defeat to Puerto Rico last season. He increased that record to 80 games when he started the Caps MLS opener against Toronto.

It wasn’t just his peers that recognised Jay’s quality, the Whitecaps fans did too.

Nolly won the Vancouver Southsiders inaugural ‘Player of the Year’ award (“The Willie”) in 2009, repeating the triumph in 2010.

Jay’s college success had seen him land a spot in MLS with Real Salt Lake, making seven appearances for the Utah side in his two seasons there in 2005 and 2006.

The following year he was traded to DC United, where he made just one appearance under Head Coach Tommy “The Reverse Midas” Soehn.

Soehn waived Nolly and his lack of judgement was a blessing for Vancouver, bringing Jay to Canada’s west coast for four happy years.

Nothing lasts forever though and Jay is now moving on.

Last season was a difficult one for him. Beginning the campaign as the starting goalie, he went on to play 14 games and 1260 minutes for the Caps in MLS, conceding 23 goals and saving 39 of 62 shots.

Even when he lost his starting place to Joe Cannon, Jay was a class act. He never let his head go down and worked as hard as he could to regain that number one spot, telling AFTN back in July:

“Obviously you always want to play. You feel that you’re not getting the results at the beginning of the season, when you’re playing well. You know when you’re not getting results that changes are going to happen and I was one of them.

It’s a gut check and you gotta just rebound from it and for me now, I gotta challenge Joe and try and get back in there.”

It saddens us that Jay’s last first team appearance for the Whitecaps was the Stephen King induced nightmare in DC in August.

That’s not how any Whitecaps fan should remember Jay Nolly.

This is how he should always be remembered by the Blue and White masses:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sw_88yU-JEs&w=500&h=284]Jay Nolly gave his all to Vancouver Whitecaps. He and his family loved being in the city and loved the fans. That love was given right back.

If you were to ask AFTN for our favourite Jay Nolly highlight, there are a few important and spectacular saves that come to mind. For us though, we’ll never forget this one particular highlight from the NASL game between the Caps and St Louis at Swangard on July 8th last year:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMbCJ5WYcv4?hd=1&w=500&h=369]You’ll never beat Jay Nolly indeed.

Jay, we salute you and wish you nothing but success in your footballing future.

You’ll always be a Whitecap to us.

Goodbye. Good luck. And thanks for the memories Jay.

Authored by: Michael McColl

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