Cordell Cato does not lack confidence.
The rookie forward from Trinidad began drawing playing time off the bench for Sounders FC last week, and he projects no sense of surprise that he is contributing so soon in his first Major League Soccer season.
“No, not at all,” he said. “I believe that I’ve worked hard, and the reason that I’m on the field is because I’ve shown what I’m capable of doing. That’s why I was rewarded with the early playing time.”
At 19 years old, Cato is the youngest Sounder. However, his attitude is not merely the confidence of youth. It is shared by someone a full 40 years older.
“The progress has actually been slower than I would have hoped,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “We were very happy when we signed him because we thought, physically, he’s got some great skills. He’s got speed. He’s strong. He’s also got pretty good endurance. It’s get a matter of learning the game. But he’s definitely coming along.”
Cato already has professional experience with Trinidad and Tobago clubs Defence Force (2003-2008, 2011) and San Juan Jabloteh (2009-10). He also was chosen for Trinidad and Tobago’s squad in the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championships. He trained with the Sounders last summer and signed on Jan. 18.
His progress was delayed by a series of minor injuries through training camp. However, he said he is healthy now.
Cato made his MLS debut last week at FC Dallas and instantly became the youngest Sounder to figure in a scoring play, assisting the first of Fredy Montero’s goals in the 2-0 win. He drew his second appearance Saturday, coming on for Mauro Rosales and playing the final 15 minutes in the 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake.
Not surprisingly, Cato’s ability to quickly adapt to the new league isn’t surprising to him.
“I’m not surprised at all,” he said. “The team here is like home for everybody (and) encourages us young guys to do well and continue working as hard as we’ve been working. It’s all good.”
Sounders defender Patrick Ianni has been diagnosed with a bulging disk in his back. The treatment plan calls for rest. Ianni won’t play Saturday when the Sounders visit the Vancouver Whitecaps. There is no timeline for his return. ... Defender Leo Gonzalez left Tuesday training early due to a calf injury. Schmid indicated the move was precautionary. ... After a day off today, the club will return to training Thursday.