And there may be no better time for the 23-year old Californian to finally show his wares.
"I'm either the hero or the zero," said Countess, Real Salt Lake's No. 1 goalkeeper as the team begins its inaugural season next week. "There's really no other way to look at it."
RSL will open at the Meadowlands in New Jersey against the MetroStars, on April 2.
Playing for his fourth MLS team in five years, one could argue Countess faces a make-or-break season with RSL, when the path he's taken to Salt Lake is reviewed.
The 23-year old former Parade All-American and starting keeper for UCLA began his Major League Soccer career in an unfortunate spot -- on the bench, thanks to the spectacular play of the goalkeeper in front of him, Tim Howard of the MetroStars.
Howard is now the starting keeper for European powerhouse Manchester United.
Countess then was traded to Dallas, where he seemed to catch another bad break -- as the starting goalie for the worst team in the MLS. His 5-15-4 record likely had as much to do with the team in front of him as it did anything else.
He was then traded to Chicago in 2004, where he competed for the top job but was beaten out by Henry Ring. He started one game.
In high school -- and during a one-year stint at UCLA -- Countess was thought to be the creme de la creme of the United States' up-and-coming goalkeepers. He started for the U.S. Under-17 team when it finished fourth at the World Youth Championships in 1999.
Countess played for now RSL coach John Ellinger, who left his post as the U-17 national coach to come to Salt Lake, as a member of the U-17 team.
The player is happy to be playing for his mentor once again.
"Big El, he's the man," Countess said. "Coach Ellinger's strength is that he produces winning teams. That's the reason he's at where he's at right now. He' very smart at finding players and putting them in certain positions where they're going to succeed."
Countess may finally be in the right place, and at the right time.
Not only is he reunited with Ellinger, he's back with his former U-17 goalkeeper coach, Peter Mellor, who followed the head coach from their home base in Bradenton, Fla., to Salt Lake City.
Mellor knows Countess as well as any other coach
"I had him every day for two years," Mellor said. "D.J. is a great competitor. He has the ability to go a long way. His ability to get the job done is there."
But it's not that simple. Countess must re-learn Mellor's principles, some of which slipped away while the pair was apart. Both have worked in the preseason to bring them back.
"I think there's room for improvement," Mellor said. "He has to pay attention to details. Lots of goalkeepers don't pay attention to details. He understands that's something he lost since we last parted company. D.J. needs to perform the way I know he can perform and if he does that he'll be fine."
Besides Mellor and Ellinger there is, of course, Eddie Pope.
Generally considered the best defender in the history of U.S. soccer, the 31-year old Pope will anchor RSL's defense. Pope, a member of the U.S. national team, is guaranteed to make life easier for Countess.
"It was like a blessing to get him," Countess said. "Obviously it's great for me, having a guy like Eddie around. I look up to him."
Though he's probably spent only a few days in his new home state, Countess -- in California last week for spring training -- is eager to return to Salt Lake.
"I can't wait to get back," said Countess. His enthusiasm seems to have no boundaries.
"The sky's the limit for us," Countess said. "We have the coaches. We have the players. We even have the team colors."
Ah, the details.