Standing in a black suit and a Sounders FC scarf draped over his shoulders after having his name called at the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Michael Tetteh was grinning from ear-to-ear. If he felt a great sense of accomplishment after finding out where he would play his professional soccer, it would be completely understandable.
He hasn’t seen his family in over six years and now with a professional career in front of him, he sees an opportunity not only to return to Ghana to see his parents and his brothers and sisters, but also to improve their lives while doing what he loves.
“I love them to death and everything but there’s just things I have to take care of and my goal is to go home this year to see them,” Tetteh said after being drafted 20th overall on Thursday. I actually haven’t told them about what’s happening. I haven’t told them I got a GA (Generation adidas) contract. I haven’t told them anything. They are going to be very, very excited for me and I’m looking to the day that I go home and see them.”
Growing up in the small village of Odumasi in Ghana, Tetteh didn’t have much. When he moved to the United States at 16 years old, he had even less, traveling to Santa Barbara with nothing more than a small bag with some clothes. He left everything behind, including his family.
It was a tremendous leap of faith when he accepted a scholarship to play soccer at the Dunn School in Los Olivos, California, but one Tetteh felt he had to make in order to help his family get out of the impoverished conditions of their village.
Now that he has reached his next step in that dream, he can put all of his efforts onto the soccer field.
Seattle’s new left back will have a chance to learn with an experienced Sounders FC squad that has been to the playoffs each of the last two seasons and won two consecutive Lamar Hunt US Open Cups. However, that doesn’t prevent Tetteh from setting his sights high in his first year with the club.
“Obviously I’m a rookie and I have got to prove myself on the field but my goal is to go there and learn from the other guys and get on the field,” Tetteh said. “With the style of play that Seattle plays, I think it’s going to be a very good fit for me and I could see myself going in and starting.”
When he talks about Seattle’s style of play, it’s not mere hearsay or uninformed in any way. In his college house at UC-Santa Barbara, soccer was a way of life.
When they weren’t playing soccer, he and his roommates were watching it on television.
One of his roommates, Machael David, played his high school soccer at Gig Harbor High School near Seattle, so Sounders FC matches were the norm on the television.
So when Tetteh’s name was announced as Seattle’s first pick in the SuperDraft, he knew that it was a special moment.
“As soon as my name was called I thanked God. I can’t believe this is actually happening,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of Seattle games. They play good soccer with a lot of speed and attacking and that’s how I play, so I see myself fitting in quite well.”
The feeling is mutual too. The Sounders FC technical staff had him projected in the top 15 picks in the draft. So when he was available to the Sounders with the 20th pick, they were ecstatic.
“It was definitely a nice surprise,” Schmid beamed. “He’s got a great mentality to go forward. He’s an exciting player. He’s quick and he can take people on. He’s got some moves and he has the ability to turn the corner and get crosses over. We had him projected to go between 9 and 14 so we were shocked when he was on the board at 20.”
Tetteh will join the Sounders in Seattle next week to get acquainted with the city and the training grounds at Starfire before training camp starts on January 24. Once camp begins, Tetteh will be battling for playing time along with the four other players chosen by the Sounders at the 2011 SuperDraft.
“He helps us for depth and he’ll battle for a starting spot too,” technical director Chris Henderson said.
Now, Tetteh can begin the next step toward his dream.
“This is a dream come true,” he said. “My goal is to go back home and build a soccer school in Ghana for kids. There are so many talented kids back there, but they don’t have the opportunity. I was fortunate to get a wonderful opportunity and I want to be able to give them that same opportunity.”
In Seattle, where James Riley, Steve Zakuani, Taylor Graham and others have become known for the humanitarian work in the community, it seems as though Tetteh will fit right in.