"The good thing about Gooch and I and how we play together is we're different center [backs]," says DeMerit. "He's physically dominating, he uses
his head, he uses his body very well, where I'll be more in terms of playing on the front foot and not letting people play, rather than let them get the ball and trying to wrestle with him.
"I don't have reason to do that because that's not my strength. I try to nip in front of people. I want to get the ball and be a pest. The better balance we have the better it will be for the team."
His return to action comes as Watford labors through a financial crisis. Chairman Jimmy Russo is seeking capital to meet its obligations and prevent the club from being declared insolvent. If it goes into administration, it would be docked 10 points and players could be sold during the January transfer window.
DeMerit's been the subject of transfer rumors in the past yet holds a special place in the heart of Hornet fans; his goal in the promotion playoffs lifted Watford into the Premier League for the just the second time, and though that one season (2006-07) ended in relegation, it also drew the attention of U.S. coach Bob Bradley.
Along with the spirit and tenacity that brought him up from the ranks of English semi-pro soccer to the national team, he's displayed a commitment to teamwork from day one. Whether or not he's a starter, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which Bradley doesn't take a healthy DeMerit to South Africa.
"I've always understood my role to be a part of the group and one thing Bob always stresses is that the group is what matters and you have to understand that," he says. "All of us do. But ultimately you want to be out there, too. You want to be part of that number, that first XI, and it was great for me to do that and have that opportunity. You do grow in confidence.
"They talk about how important it is for forwards to have confidence and when they do they can go on a hot streak, but it's just as important for defenders as well. It puts out fires before they start and that would be the role I would play, to stop chances before they happen. When you feel sharp, when you feel confident, you can do that, you can read things a bit quicker. That's the type of center [back] I'd like to play."