MichaelBradleyDC

Michael Bradley was named the seventh captain in Toronto FC history on Tuesday. The American midfielder takes over the armband from defender Steven Caldwell.


“I’m extremely proud and excited,” Bradley said on Tuesday.


“I think it’s important to first talk about Steven Caldwell and the respect and admiration we have for each other. From the first day I got here he’s somebody that’s played a huge role for me, both on and off the field.”


Caldwell’s veteran presence on the backline was crucial to Toronto FC’s early success last season. It’s not a coincidence the Reds struggled when Caldwell was out to due to injury.


The decision to award Bradley the captaincy was made with careful consideration of where this club wants to go.


“For me Steven has been a great captain, a great person and obviously an important piece to our team.” head coach Greg Vanney said.


“Making this decision was not easy and not one I take lightly, but for where we are and where we are going it’s time for Michael to take on this role. “


Bradley will take charge of TFC’s leadership council, and Caldwell will remain an integral part of that group.


“What I see from a front office perspective is that you have five or six guys that are leading together,” General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko said.


“I think in any big team you have a group of four, five, six, seven guys who take responsibility for the group and set the tone every day,” said Bradley, echoing the thoughts of his GM.


That core didn’t exist last season.


“Last year was the first time that group of players had the expectations of making the playoffs,” said Vanney. “We didn’t handle the pressure well.”


Last year’s edition featured a young squad that acted their age at critical junctures, playing like kids when the situation required men.


Looking at the squad now, with Caldwell, Justin Morrow, Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, Damien Perquis, Benoit Cheyrou and Robbie Findley, a leadership group with the experience required to withstand the rigors of the regular season is in place.


“These are guys that have been around different places and won,” Bradley continued. “They’re committed to being here and winning here and I think you can’t understate the importance of that.”


In Bradley, 27, the club’s braintrust has their linchpin for the next half decade.


“Michael is here for the next four to five years,” stated Vanney.


“We’re building this team to win not just for one year, as you’ve seen with Sebastian who is 28 and Jozy who is 25. This is a long term project for success, so for us it was also choosing Michael for the next several years to take on that responsibility.”


“Over the course of his career he’s been a player that’s overcame the odds,” Bezbatchenko said. “Whether it was Holland, Italy or Germany, he likes a challenge."


He’ll get that in Toronto.


Bradley is as cerebral as the come, carefully taking in his surroundings at all times. He knows what it means to be a captain in this city.


“I’ve learned pretty quickly that being captain of a team in this city bears some extra responsibility and extra pressure,” he said.


It takes a certain kind of person to embrace that pressure. The daily grind features garish front pages and click baiting headlines.


“I’m excited by that,” Bradley said. “I’m looking forward to representing this team and the city in the best possible way.”


“There has to be a feeling among us all that we are in something together.”


All for one. There’s a reason it’s stitched on the jersey.