Michael Bradley without the armband in Toronto? Interesting, but not that important

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We’ve had the same discussion regarding the national team, but with Michael Bradley seemingly the cornerstone of Toronto FC going forward, handing the captain’s armband to the team’s high-priced midfielder would seem like a logical move. Not only does the U.S. international have the demeanor and temperament to handle the role, but the move would be a small, mostly ceremonial way to further signal a new era of Reds soccer. The team’s made a huge commitment, is trying to instill new, higher expectations, and no player a better symbol for that change than Bradley.

The move would mostly be symbolic, however. On the field, the team will be the same whether Bradley takes the armband or it stays with defender Steven Caldwell, who assumed the honor last season.

According to head coach Ryan Nelsen, when the team opens the 2014 campaign on Mar. 15 in Seattle, the 12-time Scotland international will lead his teammates out.

“Steven’s been our captain and always has been, and there’s no reason why he won’t be,” Nelsen said on the league’s official website. “Real leaders on the field don’t need an armband; it’s more for the public, media and fans.”

Toronto general manager Tim Bezbatchenko also sounded a note of support, citing the leadership the former Premier League defender showed after joining the Reds in the middle of the 2013 season. In that sense, the staff at BMO is staying with the sure thing. They know what the 33-year-old brings to the table. Possibly out of loyalty, Nelsen and friends may not want to rock the boat.

For some players, this kind of stuff matters. It did when David Beckham arrived in Los Angeles. Michael Bradley doesn’t seem like the type of player to either insist on or care about the armband, but it’s too easy to say real leaders don’t need the honor. Each squad and each situation is different.

In Toronto, it’s probably not going to matter. It is interesting, however, that a player so many see as captain material isn’t wearing the armband for club or country.