TORONTO — Ever since president and GM Kevin Payne and head coach Ryan Nelsen took over the helm of Toronto FC prior to the 2013 season, they have used short-term loan deals to maintain roster flexibility and evaluate how players might fit into the long-term rebuilding of the team.
While midfielder John Bostock did not impress enough to earn a long-term deal and was released back in May, forward Robert Earnshaw leads Toronto in scoring with six goals and defender Steven Caldwell is looking very much like the needed tonic for a backline that had become prone to conceding goals very late in matches. It’s not a major surprise that Nelsen is hoping to extend the pair beyond the end of this month when their current deals expire.
“We are doing negotiations with Steven at the moment,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com. “I think Robert is taken care of.”
WATCH: Nelsen's team update
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While Earnshaw’s extension has not officially seen all of the Ts crossed and Is dotted, both parties involved have given the impression that the Welsh international striker will be scoring goals for TFC for at least the remainder of the current campaign.
“I definitely want to be here,” Earnshaw said following training on Thursday. “This is a very good club. I’ve really enjoyed my time here and I want more of it.”
Caldwell’s stay at TFC does not appear to be as assured even though he has expressed similar sentiments to those of Earnshaw.
WATCH: Caldwell talks to TorontoFC.ca
“Hopefully [staying at TFC] can come about,” Caldwell said. “It’s something that would interest me. I think if Toronto want me to stay, we can talk about it. We’ve not really entered serious discussions yet and I know [the loan deal] ends on the first of July.
"So hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later because I’m pretty sure things will be heating up back in England in the next week to 10 days."
Over the course of his first several months as an MLS head coach, Nelsen has often lamented the fact that managing a team with a salary budget can often mean that you are outbid for players in a global market place. That's the challenge facing TFC in Caldwell's case.
“Steven obviously has a lot of interest in his services in England due to his experience and his leadership,” Nelsen said. “Hopefully we can keep him here because he has been invaluable not only as a player, but also for the younger guys on the team.”
Added Earnshaw: “Caldwell has been brilliant since he has come. He has that experience and he is a talker. He helps his teammates in the defense and is always talking to them and trying to get them into good positions to defend. He has also brought in his height and he is a good defender and he helps everybody around him to get better.”
The 32-year-old Scotland international has clearly fit in and made a difference at Toronto FC, so supporters are likely hoping that Caldwell and the club can find some ground with respect to a contract in the next 10 days.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Ryan,” Caldwell said. “He is somebody I have always admired. So I’d be honored to be asked to stay and I hope he has been pleased with the contribution I have made so far. I know I can do more and get better as I become more accustomed to the guys and they become more accustomed to me. I feel I can help out on and off the field.”
Steve Bottjer covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.