TORONTO – Steven Caldwell hasn’t been with Toronto FC for very long, but already, the captain has seen many players come and go from BMO Field.
TFC’s latest round of acquisitions, though, have the 33-year-old central defender more than impressed.
Speaking to MLSsoccer.com during Toronto FC’s media day on Tuesday, Caldwell said he is fully aware of the image that Toronto is projecting to the rest of the league through the blockbuster signings of English international Jermain Defoe, USMNT star Michael Bradley and Brazilian striker Gilberto.
“We’re probably the envy of most teams in MLS,” Caldwell said, allowing himself a slight smile before adding that star players don’t necessarily guarantee success. “We still need to work extremely hard. This is a very difficult league to win in consistently. We’re going to find it tough but exciting and we’re focused on the task ahead.”
And it's Caldwell who will be tasked with helping turn all that star power into success on the field.
The former Scottish international joined Toronto FC midway through the 2013 season and helped solidify the backline. He added much-needed leadership to a young roster, and that character awarded him the captain’s armband. However, in TFC’s preseason match on Feb. 5 against D.C. United, Bradley was awarded the role of captain by head coach Ryan Nelsen, while Caldwell was absent with an injury.
So will Caldwell still be captaining Toronto FC in 2014?
“I certainly hope so,” Caldwell said. “[Nelsen and I] never really had the chat, but I trust the manager implicitly. He’s the reason that I came to this football club. He’s not let me down in one area.”
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Nelsen is spoiled for choice when it comes to leaders in the locker room, the most recent being Brazilian national team goalkeeper Júlio César, who was unveiled on Friday.
Still, Nelsen said he found his captain last year and doesn’t see the need for change.
“Steven’s been our captain and always has been, and there’s no reason why he won’t be,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com. “Real leaders on the field don’t need an armband; it’s more for the public, media and fans. I've got seven or eight captains on the team.”
Added TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko: “We need to create a winning culture here. Typically, that comes about through leaders showing other people how to win. What I can say is Steven is our captain and he’s proven all last year. He’s held the bar really high and shown what it takes to be the captain.”