FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When Scott Caldwell completed his first training stint with the New England Revolution during the summer of 2009, the soft-spoken recent high school graduate was preparing to join the University of Akron men’s soccer team for his freshman season.
Now a rising junior – not to mention a national champion after scoring the game-winning goal in Akron’s 1-0 win over the University of Louisville in the 2010 NCAA title game – Caldwell has rejoined the Revs for five training sessions from May 11-18, and the 20-year-old is noticeably more relaxed.
“Definitely,” Caldwell said with a chuckle when asked if he was more at ease in the locker room this time around. “There are new faces, but it’s a little more comfortable.”
Caldwell captained the Revolution’s Under-18 team during the youth academy’s inaugural season in 2008-09 before heading to Akron, where he recently completed an abbreviated spring schedule with a record of 4-1-3.
With his schoolwork finished for the semester and a trip to his hometown of Braintree, Mass., on the docket, Caldwell saw a chance to continue his training regimen at the highest level. He contacted Vice President of Player Personnel Michael Burns and Director of Youth Development Bryan Scales to inquire about a potential training stint, and the club was more than happy to oblige.
“It’s another great opportunity, so I’m happy to be here,” said Caldwell. “(I can stay) fit and try to get better. Obviously I’m playing with better players, so I’m just trying to improve every day.”
Improving every day is all part of Caldwell’s aspiration to one day play professional soccer, potentially for the Revolution, which currently holds his MLS rights because of his participation in the club’s Academy program.
In the past two years, Caldwell has watched as former Akron teammates Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Blair Gavin (Chivas USA), Ben Zemanksi (Chivas USA), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Zarek Valentin (Chivas USA), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo), Michael Nanchoff (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Chris Korb (D.C. United) and Anthony Ampaipitakwong (San Jose Earthquakes) have all begun successful MLS careers.
The continuous pipeline of former Akron players moving on to professional soccer has only served to reinforce Caldwell’s decision to play for the Zips and renowned head coach Caleb Porter.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Caldwell when asked about his emotions watching his former teammates turn pro. “Knowing that Caleb’s such a great coach, producing such great players – obviously recruiting them and taking their game to the next level – I know it’s a great place to be.”
With that said, Caldwell plans to take a different path than many of his former teammates who left school early to pursue professional careers. Caldwell has stated his intention to finish his degree at Akron and play the final two years of his collegiate career.
Only then will he chase his dream.
“I’d love to play professionally as soon as I’m good enough,” said Caldwell. “I love to play.”