TORONTO – Fresh off his first training session with Toronto FC, Scottish defender Steven Caldwell is looking forward to playing his first match under manager Ryan Nelsen, who he has admired for years in England.
Caldwell is currently under contract with Birmingham City and will initially be on loan to Toronto until his deal with the English club expires in July. Whether he remains with the Reds longer than that will ultimately be determined by how well he acclimates to Toronto both on and off the pitch.
“It’s a big change for guys like him, because they have families,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com. “So sometimes it is hard for them to know whether [a move to North America] is for them. It is a great opportunity for him to see if he likes it and to have his family come out. If we want to extend it and both parties want to do that, we’ll be more than happy to do so.”
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Said Caldwell: “We’ve had brief discussions about [extending my time with TFC]. Hopefully it is a case of me doing well for Toronto and obviously me settling in well in the city with my family, who are not here right now. My young kids are in school in England and will be coming out and having a look."
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The Scotland international arrives in Toronto after spending the entirety of his career in England, and he admitted that he did do some due diligence before agreeing to the loan deal with TFC.
“I have a couple of friends who have played in the MLS, who came over from the Championship and Premier League in England," Caldwell said. "They have said that it is great, that it is an exciting league and that is difficult to do well and difficult to play away and win football matches. They have only said good things about the franchises that they have played for.
“My good friend Carl Robinson played here and I speak to him quite often. He had great things to say about Toronto and obviously he has stayed in MLS for 7-8 years now. I know that it is a great club and a well-supported club.”
While he and his family will take some time to determine whether or not Toronto is the right fit for them long-term, Caldwell will now be focused on proving that he can be part of the solution for a squad that has consistently dropped points due to defensive breakdowns late in matches.
“I always put pressure on myself to come in and prove myself to a football team that I have joined. I feel the pressure and I enjoy that pressure. That’s why you play football, to experience that,” Caldwell said. “I try and play hard. That is all I know.”
Steve Bottjer covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.