FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution’s youth movement has been well documented in recent weeks as the attacking trio of Juan Agudelo, Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe has combined to register 13 goals and five assists in the last eight games in all competitions.
But another of the Revolution’s young guns, 22-year-old Homegrown rookie Scott Caldwell, has also played a key role in New England’s revival, starting the last four games in a less-heralded, deep-lying midfield position.
Caldwell had a stellar preseason and was rewarded by starting two of the Revolution’s first three regular-season games, but it wasn’t until recently that he grabbed hold of the starting role with the first steady run of matches in his pro career.
“It’s obviously something I was looking to try to do,” Caldwell said of breaking into the lineup. “I didn’t really know it was going to happen this soon in my career, but I’m definitely happy. It’s a confidence booster to know that the guys trust me and the coaches trust me.”
An attacking midfielder during a standout college career at the University of Akron, Caldwell registered nine goals and a team-leading 10 assists his senior season. But with the Revs, Caldwell has made the transition to a deeper midfield role, sitting directly in front of the backline and in behind the more attack-minded midfielders.
It’s a position the Braintree, Mass., native says suits his skill-set, but Caldwell also noted he’s relied heavily upon the guidance of veterans Kalifa Cisse and Clyde Simms to help adjust to the new responsibilities.
“Back there, I’ve got to make sure I’m not leaving the backline vulnerable,” Caldwell said. “You try to win balls, but you can’t over-commit and get beat, or else you leave the rest of the team back there. So you’ve got to provide balance. On the ball, I just keep the ball moving and help the team attack from a deep position.”
Head coach Jay Heaps had little doubt about Caldwell’s ability after watching his progression through preseason, but it’s been Caldwell’s continued growth during the regular season and the rookie’s veteran-like understanding of game plans and tactics which has inspired Heaps to hand him a starting role.
“He’s a mature rookie,” Heaps said. “He’s a player that really grasps what I’m trying to do tactically. When a player does that and can understand what you’re trying to do, you really like having that kind of player, because he kind of sees it the way I want to see it. He reads the game really well and just gets better and better as games go on.”
But is Heaps surprised that Caldwell has pushed his way into the starting lineup so early in his career?
Not in the slightest.
“I think if you ask any player, there’s no question in preseason he was going to be fighting for a spot every week,” Heaps said.