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. It's been a little slower than I would have hoped just because of the niggling injuries. But he's definitely coming along."
Though still a teenager, Cato already has professional experience with Trinidad & Tobago clubs Defence Force (2003-2008 and San Juan Jabloteh (2009-10). He also was chosen for Trinidad & 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 says 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.
"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," Ruiz said. "It's all good."