Read: Atlanta United’s Otoo first interview

Jeffrey Otoo is quiet, so quiet that, even sitting two feet away, it’s necessary to lean in to hear him talk about his favorite player, team, and goals as a professional soccer player.

His answers are short but informative. In his first interview since signing with MLS expansion club Atlanta United, Otoo looks his questioner in the eye with confidence and determination.

“Some years ago, I was picturing myself as a pro,” he said. “Glory be to God, now I’m one of them.”

It’s nearly impossible to imagine having the courage to follow Otoo’s path: A 19-year-old leaves his home, family, friends and soccer team in Ghana to travel to the United States to follow his dream of becoming the next Shaun Wright-Phillips (his favorite player) with Atlanta United.

It’s a different culture, different food … different everything.

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But Otoo is starting to become comfortable.

“We are starting to see what other people have seen,” said Mike Anhaeuser, the coach of the Charleston Battery, where Otoo was sent on loan by Atlanta United to get playing time and experiences in the U.S.

The signs are in Otoo’s left foot, a flesh-and-blood wall-breaker to hear Anhaeuser describe what he’s seen in practice, scrimmages and exhibition games.

“His shot is his bread and butter,” Anhaeuser said. “I don’t know if anyone has had that in MLS. If he can get forward, and can get 30 yards, he can unleash it. He’s not the biggest guy, but if you watch him shoot.”

The dribbling ability is also starting to manifest itself in practices as Otoo becomes more comfortable with his surroundings and teammates, particularly fellow Ghanian Emmanuel Adjetey.

Because he has no driver’s license and only recently became registered as a player in the U.S. (so he can now appear for Charleston in games), Otoo has spent most of the past few weeks on the practice fields working on his craft, or in his room watching youtube videos focused on scoring, or talking to his friends and teammates on his old squad, Charity Stars FC, in Ghana.

He and fellow loaned Atlanta United players Alex Tambakis, a goalkeeper, and Andrew Carleton, a midfielder, will typically stay after practice to spend extra time on their conditioning and sharpening their techniques.

“I’ve seen some talent in training,” Tambakis said of Otoo. “He’s not afraid.”

Atlanta United President Darrel Eales travelled all the way to Ghana – a flight of almost 24 hours with Eales cramping because he had just finished the ATL Champions League tournament – to complete the signing of Otoo. The team posted photos of Eales’ visit on its Facebook page. Otoo said he had heard of Atlanta, but not the team until the club showed an interest in him.

Though Otoo’s life and surroundings have changed, his focus remains sharp. He wants to win trophies, lots of them, with Atlanta United.

“Since becoming a pro player, my time is being spent on the pitch and thinking of how to progress there,” Otoo said.

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