There can be a great leap from the level of the college game to Major League Soccer. For some, that chasm is easily traversed in their first year in the league while others take more time to find their footing.
Sounders FC defender Michael Tetteh was hoping he’d be among the former group when he was taken 20th overall in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. However, he ended up playing in just one competitive match – a 2-1 win over the Kitsap Pumas in the US Open Cup – and was left wanting more after his first professional season.
However, in his first off-season, he’s using the disappointment of his first season as motivation to build on his future.
“My first year in Seattle was such a learning process. I had high expectations and not playing was very hard,” Tetteh said. “I’m actually very glad that I went through it though, because your attitude has to be on a different level.”
The off-season has included an eye toward improving his defensive positioning, a key element the coaches have asked him to focus on.
He had a unique opportunity to put that focus to practice when he went to Holland with his class of Generation adidas players for the annual tour, training and playing three matches with 17 other emerging MLS talents on a ten-day tour in the month of December.
All told, Tetteh played 109 minutes as the Generation adidas side went 1-2-0 in their three matches.
The first game of the tour was an explosive affair, with the Generation adidas squad jumping out to an early 1-0 lead only to fall 4-2 to the Ajax reserve side. Tetteh started that match and played the full 60 minutes of the shortened match.
Tetteh saw limited minutes in the second match, a 3-2 win over second-division FC Volendam, then played the first half in a 2-0 loss to second-division Almere City FC.
The 22-year-old Ghanaian sees the tour as a valuable opportunity to gain experience and play with some other quality young players in MLS.
“When you come into the league, sometimes you don’t get a lot of playing time, so it’s a great experience to get together and train and play some games against some good teams in Europe,” he said, noting that the level of competition wasn’t much different than what he was used to in MLS. “It wasn’t like the teams we were playing were doing anything special. It wasn’t any different than the MLS, so it was good to see that we’re on that level.”
In 2011, he played in nine of Seattle’s ten reserve league matches, finishing second on the team with three goals while adding two assists.
Now he’s hoping to use his experience on the Generation adidas tour to propel him back on the field and see more playing time in 2012. He knows, however, that there is only one person who can determine how far he climbs Seattle’s depth chart and how many minutes he can earn in his second season.
“For me to get on the field, it’s solely up to me. The responsibility is on me to perform and prove to the coaches that I’m good enough to be on the field,” he said. “I have to maintain a positive attitude and continue to work hard. I believe in my abilities and I know my time will come.”