When national team stars such as Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen partner are next to you in the center of midfield, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and go unnoticed. For midfielder Scott Caldwell, who is the New England Revolution’s second ever Homegrown signing, this often unfolds on game day.
This usually would be a detriment, but it serves as a microcosm for why the Revs’ front office was so keen on offering the former Akron star a professional contract. The third year player quietly goes about his business on the field, reads the game beautifully, isn't afraid to throw his small frame into challenges, and more often than not makes the right play.
No matter how steady the 24-year-old is though, he tends to fly below the radar and rarely is heralded for his performance on the field. While the majority of Caldwell’s stable development can be attributed to him personally, he feels that the team’s young core has played a vital role. It has instilled confidence in him and pushed him to better his game every week.
"The young core is nice, especially with the coaches not being afraid to throw the young guys into the fire a little bit and implementing us into the team," Caldwell said. "Also, having a good support group with the young guys has been great."
While the Revs’ young core has played its part in Caldwell’s growth, a great deal of credit should also go to the older players. Daigo Kobayashi, Andy Dorman, and Jones are all in their early thirties and have been around the game for several years.
All three have experience and bring a level of nous that Caldwell greatly benefits from, and, more importantly, that he can implement into his own ever-developing game. Whether it be Jones’ bite, Dorman’s ability to keep possession, or Kobayashi’s eye for a killer pass, Caldwell values the individual skill-set each player offers.
"It’s great training every day with more experienced guys," Caldwell. "It’s just picking up their tendencies and picking little pieces from each of their game’s to then work into mine. It’s whatever I can see that I can incorporate in my game."
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As much as Caldwell values the Revs’ older players, nobody has aided his growth more so than Jay Heaps. The Revs head coach and Caldwell have respectively been with the Revs in their current capacity for four and three years.
Heaps entered the league with no coaching experience, much like Caldwell entered MLS with no professional experience. They have both had great success since and come through the ranks together.
"The familiarity between us is great and to be able to see him grow [as a coach] as well is great," Caldwell said. "It’s nice to have some continuity as a player and to have him as a coach."
As far along as Caldwell has come, there is room for him to grow throughout the 2015 MLS season. He has many years of professional soccer ahead of him and, with a diverse support system present at the Revs, has the potential to improve by leaps and bounds.
The holding midfielder’s defensive game is often lauded and sound, but only at the cost of a strong offensive presence. He is hoping to add that element to his game, but the quintessential team player will only do so if it benefits the team as a whole.
With that kind of attitude, there’s no wonder why Caldwell is already at the level that he is.
"I would love to get more involved offensively, but if it’s not going to help the team I’m not going to do it," Caldwell said. "I need to pick my moments and really help the team in any way possible. I’ll work on particulars in training, strengthen my strengths, improve my weaknesses, and have it show in the game."