As the Seattle Sounders finalize the roster over the next day or so, head coach Sigi Schmid has plenty of hard decisions to make. Forming a roster of 28 forces the front office and coaching staff to make sacrifices, playing a give-and-take game to ensure adequate depth at every position in anticipation of a lengthy season with plenty of matches. From the CONCACAF Champions League to the U.S. Open Cup to the MLS competition, the Sounders have a stacked schedule, and need all the versatility they can get from their players.
It's why you see Roger Levesque working everywhere on the field in training camp, showing a broad range of skills while playing nearly every position at one time or another. And on the left side, a newcomer has a chance to make an immediate impact, playing both in the midfield and on the back line. Michael Tetteh has the versatility, and the skill, to jump into the fray right away, sparking the offense while playing from end-to-end during the 2011 season.
Though he's only been with the team a short time, taken with the 20th pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Tetteh feels he's ready to step in and make an impact from the start. It's his attacking mindset that has him gelling well with the team, providing another option on the left side and adding depth to positions that need it.
"So far, I talked to Sigi a couple of times and he's been telling me to play at a left mid or left back position," Tetteh said. "I see myself someone hopefully stepping in and if I'm playing at a left back getting involved in the attack and helping the team win."
In training camp, Schmid and the Sounders have moved Tetteh around, playing the youngster at left back and left midfielder. Wherever he plays, Tetteh is ready to push forward and help in the attack from the left side, something he was accustomed to doing in college, at the University of California Santa Barbara.
"That's why I got the GA contract and went to the combine and everything. I'm just really looking forward to getting involved with the team. If I'm playing at left back, yeah, getting involved with the attack," he said, speaking about his mindset. "That's one of my strengths. If I'm playing at the left back position, stepping high on the field and providing crosses from the left side. That's something I'm able to do pretty well and I think that's something I'll be able to do here."
Like the rest of the team, Tetteh has used the time in training camp to learn and absorb information, as well as putting in the work needed to gel with the team and understand the system. It's his hope that the work put in now pays dividends right off the bat, with the ultimate goal being a spot in the starting XI.
"Everybody's very good and working very hard and the competition level is very high. That's what everybody would expect. I know what I have to do," he said. "It's my job to work hard and keep doing what I have to do. After every practice, I've been talking to the coaches and they've been giving me advice on what to do. I go back and write things down and make sure I'm learning, but my goal is to fighting for a starting spot."
Even if he's not in a starting role, Tetteh will have plenty of chances to make an impact. With as many matches as the Sounders have on the slate, Tetteh landed in a great spot, with a good opportunity to see live action on the field, either in MLS matches or other competitions.
"I couldn't be more happy to come here," Tetteh said of Seattle. "Obviously there's a lot of games and they've increased their roster sports this year and all that. They have a lot of games. It's something that I'm looking forward to."
The system fits his attacking mindset and with the needed depth on the left side, both behind Steve Zakuani and Leo Gonzalez, Tetteh figures to play a prominent role for the Sounders this year. he has the right mindset, is willing to put in the work -- both on and off the field -- to improve and seems like the kind of player that will emerge as a fan favorite.
With the Sounders needing versatility to stretch the roster as far as it can go, Tetteh fits in well with the team, and is tailor-made for Scmid's system. It's no wonder the Sounders snapped him up at No. 20 after holding their breath in hopes that he'd still be around after trading out of the first round.