Former Columbus Crew SC and United States Men’s National Team defender and midfielder John DeBrito passed away on Wednesday at age 51. The cause of death was not immediately made public.
DeBrito was an 11th round pick (105th overall) of the New England Revolution in the MLS Inaugural Draft in 1996. He made 21 appearances for the Revs that season before he was waived and quickly claimed by the New York New Jersey Metrostars. DeBrito made just eight appearances for the Metrostars before moving to the Kansas City Wizards for the remainder of the 1997 season. He also spent 1998 in Kansas City, making 12 total appearances.
The Crew selected DeBrito in the second round of the 1999 Supplemental Draft and he played more than two seasons with the Black & Gold, appearing in 35 games and scoring his only Major League Soccer goal. He was traded to the Dallas Burn partway through the 2001 season but never saw any MLS action.
Prior to his time in MLS, DeBrito played for several lower division teams after a stellar career at Division II Southern Connecticut State University from 1987 to 1990. He was a two-time NSCAA/United Soccer Coaches Association All-American, earning second-team honors in 1988 and first-team honors in 1989. His former SCSU coach Ray Reid remembered that, “his smile could light up a room. John led SCSU to two national championships. More importantly, he was a fantastic father, son and brother.” He was also a member of the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.
DeBrito, a native of Cape Verde, earned six caps for the U.S. Men’s National Team from 1991-1992. He also was in attendance at the Crew’s Legends Game and reunion on Oct. 28, 2018 which celebrated the Black & Gold staying in Ohio. At the time DeBrito told Crew historian Steve Sirk, “I was so happy to be able to go there and participate and be involved and touch base and shake hands and mingle with the fans again. I’m so happy I could be part of a wonderful weekend with the Crew family.”
According to Sirk, DeBrito was living in South Florida and working as a firefighter and paramedic.