Tuesday, February 10, 2015
O Captain! My Captain!
Multiple media outlets including The Toronto Sun and Sportsnet have reported that Michael Bradley has been named the 7th captain in Toronto FC's team history replacing Steven Caldwell.
Ever since Jozy Altidore came to terms with returning to Major League Soccer officially on January 16th, Bradley was in the forefront of talks of replacing Caldwell as the captain of the Reds. Bradley was a key reason that his USMNT teammate Altidore decided to join Toronto FC. It was rumored that Portland as well as the New York Red Bulls, Altidore's former MLS team, were interested in his services. Bradley's opinion was taken into consideration by Bezbatchenko and Vanney with decisions on other personnel moves this offseason as well. It's no small secret that Altidore and Bradley are good friends and had talked about Altidore joining TFC during the 2014 World Cup.
Other captains for Toronto FC have included Jim Brennan, Dwayne De Rosario, Darren O'Dea, Maicon Santos, Torsten Frings as well as Caldwell and now Bradley.
Is this the right move? Should Steven Caldwell who has worn the captain's badge on his sleeve since July 2013 be removed of his position?
I believe the answer is who knows right now, but it should not have been handled in the reported way that it was. Vanney let Caldwell know via a phone call on Monday that he will not be retained as TFC's captain for next season. Caldwell took that leadership role very seriously and loved the chance to mentor some of the younger guys. I think it should have been done face to face with Bradley involved in the process as well. I think Vanney is favoring the US players a bit too much and not realizing how much Caldwell as meant to the organization and how he's handled himself so professionally with the loyal fans.
"I love being captain of this club," Caldwell said. "I've captained every team I've played for since I was 15. It's something I relish and enjoy. I think I'm quite good at it. It's a great honour to be captain of any club. I don't treat it lightly and I love being captain. I hope to stay." Caldwell knows what it is like to lead a club and never took it lightly. It is not something that is an easy task. One must have the respect of his teammates by his actions on and off the pitch.
It is evident that Bradley himself is well-traveled and can handle this position with ease. He's played in two World Cups, 93 caps in total for the USMNT, over 40 appearances with Roma, and was a key leader in a year with so much turbulence last year.
Did Caldwell do anything wrong? No. He's a true professional in every sense of the word. From his time in England's top two divisions, with Scotland's national team, and Toronto FC, he carries himself in a manner that many would hope to be like. He's been a consistent rock in a back line that has had its fair share of struggles. However, it will be interesting to see now how Caldwell, who is entering the final year of his contract, responds to this not only through his actions, but on the pitch as well. I believe he will obviously be upset by it all but will handle it professionally and make the most out of the situation by leading by example on the pitch.
In my opinion, I guarantee both Bradley and Caldwell be strong leaders in the locker room, on the training grounds, and on the pitch. Yes obviously only Bradley will wear the captain armband, but both players will be leaders.
If anyone believes that Caldwell was stripped of his captain title or was relieved of his duty is simply wrong on all accounts. The organization from top down just felt as though it is Bradley's team now and that he's the "face of the franchise." There is nothing there to suggest that the locker room is or is not in favor of the swap. You'd have to think guys like Altidore and Giovinco support the move, but others especially those who have been with the club for a longer period of time like Bright Dike and Mark Bloom will still see Caldwell as a captain. One thing is for sure that Caldwell did have the attention of the locker room and garnered a certain respect from all the players.
However this turns out is a small matter because in the end, TFC making the playoffs, for the first time in the clubs history, is the goal. Plain and simple.