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Originally published January 23, 2012 at 8:15 PM | Page modified January 24, 2012 at 12:55 AM

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Cordell Cato battles cold and conditioning in first practice | Sounders notebook

After a long wait, newest Sounder Cordell Cato joined the team for preseason training Monday at a wintry Starfire Sports Campus.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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TUKWILA — Sounders FC's latest signing, Cordell Cato, joined preseason training at a still snowy Starfire Sports Campus on Monday. Afterward, the 19-year-old Trinidadian knew immediately what he'd be doing next.

Buying a pair of gloves.

"It's a lot cooler than where I came from," Cato said with a smile.

Weather aside, the young forward/midfielder's arrival was a long time coming. He tried out in Seattle last summer and was hopeful he had earned a contract. But due in part to a crowded roster in 2011, the deal wasn't done.

"I was a little mad, but I had faith in God and everything worked out," said Cato, whose signing was announced last week but had been rumored for about a month.

The 5-foot-9, 150-pound Cato, who has experience with his under-20 national team, is a speedy option who can play on the wing or up top. Coach Sigi Schmid has compared him to former Sounder Sanna Nyassi, who was lost in the 2010 MLS expansion draft and currently plays for Montreal.

"I thought for the little bit he played, you could see his quickness," said Schmid of Cato's first practice. "He's got some speed, and he's a lot stronger than you'd think for a guy his size. He'll be good."

Cato admittedly lost his breath a couple times Monday. He said the high intensity of training was difficult, but he'll get used to it.

A guest at last June's 4-2 home win against New York, Cato called Seattle one of the best teams in MLS and understands he might have to bide his time this season.

Schmid is "a good coach and as long as you're ready for it, he's going to give you the opportunity," said Cato.

Home sweet home

Monday marked the team's first practice at Starfire, its regular training facility, after two days at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton.

For Schmid, it was a welcome return.

"It feels good to be outdoors and to get back here — this is our home," said Schmid, whose team takes camp to Arizona next week.

Notes

• Schmid joked that draft pick Jason Banton has earned the nickname "Bakuani" because of a playing style that's similar to fellow North Londoner Steve Zakuani.

• Invitee goalkeeper Andrew Weber, who played the past two seasons with San Jose, has been "solid," according to Schmid. Weber is expected to battle for the No. 2 spot with second-year players Bryan Meredith and Josh Ford. Ford is currently limited as he recovers from a knee injury.

• The Sounders had split up their first three practices, with young players and invitees training in the morning and veterans training in the afternoon. The team will combine into one group the rest of the week.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com

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