Steven Caldwell has only been with Toronto FC for six matches but he has already managed to prove his value to the club. Since he arrival at BMO Field the club have allowed only 6 goals in 6 matches including earning their first clean sheet of the season. Considering the club had allowed 15 goals in their first 10 matches of the MLS season prior to his arrival that is a noticeable improvement.
The Scottish international has shown that he still has a fair bit left to offer at 32 years of age as he has brought more than just experience to the table. His resume included successful stints with the likes of Newcastle United, Sunderland, Burnley, Wigan Athletic, and Birmingham City. The club will be hoping he can continue at that level until his mid-30's as he his new deal is set to run until the end of the 2015 season.
The big question now is just how much it is going to cost Toronto to keep the experienced defender around for the next two and a half seasons. The club is already over paying enough defenders and that is part of the problem the new management group have faced while trying to rebuild the roster. With Darren O'Dea, Richard Eckersley, and Danny Califf all demanding a good chunk of change already the club will hopefully have found decent value in Caldwell.
Keeping Caldwell around could be key to Toronto FC continuing their rebuild this summer. His presence has brought solidity to the defensive group that was supposed to come with Califf but was never delivered. The back four of O'Dea, Henry, Caldwell, and Richter has been solid defensively plus they have some depth with Gale Agbossoumonde, Ashtone Morgan, and Richard Eckersley (if he ever gets fit) waiting in the wings.
If Toronto can keep the back-line stable, even with Henry picking up frequent suspensions and heading to the Gold Cup, then it will allow the club to focus on other needs. It is clear the team is heading for another rebuild during this July transfer window but at this point the defence may be solid enough to allow the club to focus on improving the midfield, adding Michael Thomas is a small start, and trying to find more scoring.
Keeping balls out of the back of their own net is half the battle in soccer and with the addition of Caldwell TFC have already improved in that area. Having only allowed 2 goals once in his six games with the club Toronto FC have at least been in a position to come away with points from every match. Any time you can limit your opponent to 1 goal or less you have to like your chances of winning but the problem for TFC is over those same six games they have only managed to score 3 goals.
Successful MLS clubs have often built their rosters starting with the defence and that is a model that Toronto would be wise to follow. Keeping Caldwell around for the next two and a half seasons is a good start in creating that needed solidity.
Now they just need to find some scoring and this team might wind up actually being competitive.