There are no shortage of statistics which indicate the constant turnover at Toronto FC, but out of all of them this may be the most telling: after Jimmy Brennan retired in 2010, Toronto FC has had five captains in the span of five years. Bump that number up to six, with today's news that Micheal Bradley has replaced Steven Caldwell as club captain. He will become the seventh in club history, following in the footsteps of Brennan, Dwayne De Rosario, Maicon Santos, Torsten Frings, Darren O'Dea and Caldwell.
The move isn't a huge surprise, it is no secret that this has been Bradley's team for some time, potentially since he arrived in the city. The American international has been consulted and involved in essentially all of the club's offseason moves. He was especially important to the acquisition of Jozy Altidore, as all involved mentioned how crucial the relationship between the two was to process. He already had the keys to the kingdom, now he's formally been named king.
While the captaincy has been handed from Caldwell to Bradley, it sounds like it wasn't exactly the Scotsman handing it himself to his younger teammate. Earlier this offseason Caldwell said he was hoping to stay on as Captain, even with many calling for him to step doing in order to make a smooth transition. Reports from training camp suggested there were individual meetings held with the players to address the captaincy issue.
The situation may frustrate Caldwell, being stripped of the captaincy regardless of the underlying narrative is always a little bit insulting. Don't expect anything to change with how he operates, however. Caldwell is without question one of, if not the classiest player to ever play for this team. Spending mere minutes in the Toronto dressing room will show the level of which he is respected, and exactly why everyone holds him in such high regard. He will remain a crucial member of Toronto FC's leadership.
Bradley, for his part, has had a few "leadership" issues that came into the forefront last season. For one, there were a couple of instances where he and Caldwell fought, although both quickly downplayed it as being a pair of competitive players. He was also not the most disciplined player throughout the year, earning several yellow cards for arguing with referees. They were likely wrong, this is MLS after all, but arguing with them won't change anything.
However, he has also shown plenty of leadership qualities that make him ideal for the position, and why, despite Caldwell, this is probably the right choice. For one, as aforementioned, he is invested with this team, looking to use his connections to make it better rather than moving away after last season didn't go exactly as planned. Last season, even as frustrations mounted he remained positive and tried to keep the team moving forward. When he couldn't make the season ending press conference due to an injury, he came back into to town and made himself available to the media.
He also represents the direction in which this team is looking to trend: players who are younger and respected on a global stage. On top of this he is hard working and dedicated to the cause, and has a good relationship with at least one of the other designated players. These are three things the club has outlined as crucial to their cause, and having a man who embodies all of them at the helm only enforces that point.
Bradley will be the seventh captain in Toronto FC history, and all signs point to the fact that he will be the most successful.