Cordell Cato has never owned a pair of gloves or a winter coat.
After his first day in Seattle, that changed in a hurry.
The Trinidadian speedster fought through the biting cold on Monday in his first training session since signing with the Sounders FC and was all smiles after word, laughing off questions about the chilly temperatures and focusing on the play on the field.
“Training is high intensity,” said Cato. “But I’m a young guy, so I’ll get used to it.”
Cato trained with the younger players in a morning session on Monday, then joined the full squad on Tuesday. At just 19 years old, he knows his best years are ahead of him though and he’s willing to be patient for his opportunity to shine in Major League Soccer.
That’s why he was easily able to put it behind him when he wasn’t signed immediately following a trial with the Sounders in June of 2011.
“It was tough because I was close and it just broke down,” he said. “I’ll just work hard and the time will come. He’s a good coach. As long as you’re ready, he’s going to give you the opportunity.”
As it turns out, a primary reason why he wasn’t signed with the club last year was the rules of MLS and not a lack of interest from the club or lack of talent from Cato. Because of the salary cap and roster limitations, there just wasn’t room for him on the roster.
“He was somebody we looked at last year. In order to add somebody during the season, you have to get rid of somebody. We kept our eye on him in the offseason and he was definitely someone we wanted to bring in and join us through preseason,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We felt he had a good shot at playing.”
In his first official session, he displayed his explosiveness, giving the Sounders another dynamic speed option to go with Mike Fucito, Steve Zakuani, Christian Sivebæk and even supplemental draft pick Jason Banton.
With that much speed in the in the Seattle attack, it’s no wonder Schmid is grinning after each training session, particularly when that unteachable element is combined with the work ethic of someone willing to learn the tricks of the trade.
“He’s a good kid, he would have done everything we asked him to do,” Schmid said. “I thought for the little bit he played, you could see his quickness. He’s got some speed, and he’s a lot stronger than you’d think for a guy his size. He’ll be good.”