TORONTO – Ryan Nelsen has spent the better part of the last few months tinkering and toying with his new roster and seeing where each piece fits.
But one player he hasn’t been able to try out just yet is Bradley Orr.
The 31-year-old English fullback missed much of the team’s preseason with injury. However, Orr says he should be fit and ready to go when Toronto FC open the regular season against the Seattle Sounders on March 15.
“I’ve had a slight niggle over the last couple of weeks of preseason,” Orr told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s nothing major, just a niggle-y calf strain, which seems to be coming over now. It’s started to gradually improve. I’m hoping to maybe on Tuesday start full training with the rest of the squad.”
Orr joined the Reds on loan from English Championship side Blackburn Rovers, the third club to take him on loan since 2012. While his loan deal runs until the end of December, Orr hasn’t spoken with his parent club about a permanent move, though he is impressed with his new side.
“From what I’ve seen and witnessed so far from Toronto Football Club, you’d be foolish not to want to be here and be a part of what’s happening,” Orr said. “First, I’ve got to prove myself as a valuable asset to the team and then if I ever get asked the question, it would be that I want to stay.”
Orr describes himself as a fullback that likes to attack, but stressed that the defensive side of the game was as important, calling it the “bread and butter” of his role. His job in the back line should be made easier playing alongside old friend Steven Caldwell (right), the current TFC captain.
"Brad and I go back almost 30 years,” Caldwell recently told MLSsoccer.com. “We stayed in touch and grew up together in Newcastle. He’s a fabulous player, and he’s been a top, top championship right back. He has the pedigree to be an excellent addition to this team."
Orr and Caldwell have picked up right where they left off since last playing alongside each other at Newcastle United from 2002-04, something Orr says made the decision to join Toronto that much easier.
"I’ve loved it,” Orr said. “Steven’s my roommate so we’ve spent just over a month together and shared rooms in preseason. He’s very, very important to the football club, he’s vital as a leader and a character in and around the place, and he’s certainly got a lot to offer on the field.
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"It’s quite funny actually, seeing that he hasn’t changed one bit," Orr continued. “He’s still exactly the same. Very vocal, and his leadership qualities are all still there. It’s a joy to play with Steven and I’m looking forward to forging another partnership with someone I call a friend."