The Scottish central defender came in with a rough tackle against Ned Grabavoy (see video above) during Toronto FC's 3-0 loss at Real Salt Lake last Saturday, a challenge that Caldwell admits got away from him.
"I’ve seen it back, and it doesn’t look good," Caldwell told reporters at a training session Tuesday. "It’s definitely a booking. I’ll take my booking. I accept my punishment. I just see it as a guy trying to win the ball and being a little bit late. … I went in to win the ball, like I do every single challenge. I’ve never been a dirty player; I’ve never had any problems with discipline in my career."
The challenge itself was addressed by referee Baldomero Toledo, who gave Caldwell a yellow card on the play, which the defender sees as sufficient discipline.
"It obviously looks worse because [Grabavoy] nicks it and he takes his feet off the ground, which any clever player does,” Caldwell said. “I’d like to think I’ve had my punishment for the match. I’d like to think [the MLS Disciplinary Committee] see my discipline, my record in the past, and they know that I’m not a dirty player and I’m never going to hurt people.”
Head coach Ryan Nelsen, who has not been shy on disciplinary matters already this season, said he expected that the MLS Disciplinary Committee would review the play, which could result in Caldwell missing Toronto’s game at Columbus on Saturday (6 pm ET, MLS Live).
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they look into it," Nelsen said. "The worrying thing is, because the referee saw it with his own eyes: The league starts jumping in on every single thing. When they start jumping on the referees, it kind of undermines them a wee bit and kind of sets a precedent.
“When do you stop?” Nelsen continued. “It’s a contact sport. If you slow it down and watch it 10 times, 20 times, every single tackle looks bad. When does it stop? It’s a dangerous road to take, in my opinion, but obviously the safety of all players is paramount, of course.
"The game has to be clean, of course, but it’s a treacherous path when you start overturning the referees’ decisions.”
Armen Bedakian covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.