When a few of his former Akron teammates returned to campus recently, Scott Caldwell gathered information about the task ahead of him in MLS.
In the back of his mind, he had a decent idea of what would confront him when he officially signed a Homegrown Player deal with New England. He spent a portion of the past four summers training with the Revs to ensure this day would come, and he understood the demands and the expectations ahead of him when he joined the squad on a full-time basis.
But that knowledge didn't stop him from asking questions about how to make the transition from the upper crust of college soccer to life as a full-time professional.
“I have a lot of former teammates who have made the jump,” Caldwell (above, right) told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday morning, after the Revs unveiled him as their second Homegrown Player signing. “They have told me how long the season is. I know I will have to be mentally ready to meet the challenge. I have been able to talk to a bunch of them over the past week or two. Everyone loves Akron. They all come back and visit.”
Caldwell used his time with the Zips to position himself for the leap to MLS. He never garnered the widespread attention of former teammates such as Darren Mattocks and Darlington Nagbe, but he developed at his own pace and worked toward the objective of joining his hometown team when he finished school.
Revolution general manager Michael Burns noted how well Caldwell adjusted to the shifting demands placed upon him. He excelled in a complementary role early in his college career and scored the goal to secure Akron's first College Cup triumph in 2010. He thrived as a primary option during his senior season (nine goals and 10 assists) and won MAC Player of the Year and first-team NSCAA All-America honors.
And Caldwell's success at the collegiate level showed when he trained with the Revs. He didn't shrink from the responsibility. He embraced it.
“When he has come back here and trained with us, he's found another gear in his game to be able to play at a higher level,” Burns said. “His soccer IQ is very high. Technically, he's good. He just finds a way to bring his game to another level. We're optimistic that will continue for him [in MLS].”
And the Braintree, Mass., native plans to do his part to ensure it does. It may take a few more discussions with his fellow Zips and a lot of hard work to put his intelligence into action, but Caldwell said he will do whatever it takes to ensure the next steps proceed smoothly.
“I just want to contribute as much as possible,” Caldwell said.