When Atlanta United FC begins play in MLS next season, they will have an enthusiastic, exciting young striker, Ghanaian Jeffrey Otoo.
In 2017, Major League Soccer will welcome Minnesota United and Atlanta United. Minnesota currently plays in the NASL, but Atlanta United is starting from scratch. Throughout this year, they’ve added players, and loaned them to the USL’s Charleston Battery for match experience until the 2017 Atlanta inaugural campaign.
One of the players they’ve signed is forward Jeffrey Otoo. Otoo is an eighteen year old from Accra, Ghana, who previously played for Charity Stars FC. Otoo is known for his pace, passing, and physicality. Fans can get a first look at Otoo, and the rest of Atlanta United at the 2017 Carolina Challenge Cup in aforementioned Charleston. I was able to talk to Jeffrey about his adjustment to America, and his eagerness to play for Atlanta United FC in 2017.
Question: How have you enjoyed playing soccer in America so far?
Jeffrey Otoo: It is so different from playing in Ghana, and I must admit that I am enjoying it totally. It was difficult to adapt at first, but now I feel so comfortable. It is a great country to play in.
Q: What has been the biggest difference from Ghana to the United States, on the pitch?
Otoo: In the USA, the pitches are better. In Ghana, I spent virtually all my life playing on bad pitches and bad environments. Though Ghana has so much soccer talent, we are less resourced compared to the USA, so I can understand that. The difference is in the pitches, and the environment.
Q: On the other side, what has been the biggest change, outside of soccer?
Otoo: The culture, meals, new friends, new environment and new opportunities
Q: Atlanta United had an agreement with the Charleston Battery for loaning signed players there for the USL season. What Battery player gave you the best advice in your time there?
Otoo: Odisnel Cooper. Though he tells me how good I am, and the many qualities I possess, he advises me to do more, and always to recover when I lose possession of the ball.
Q: How nice has it been to play with, and get to know, some of your future Atlanta United teammates during your time in Charleston?
Otoo: It has been so nice. The experience is worth it. I love teamwork. I loved to be around my teammates while I was in Ghana. It is the same here. I have been so happy being around these guys. It helped me to get to know them better. It helps to enhance teamwork.
Q: Why was signing with Atlanta United the right move for you?
Otoo: When (team president) Darren (Eales) flew to Ghana, he inspired me more to play for Atlanta United. I was excited about launching my career in a club like Atlanta United. ATL UTD seemed to me like a club that was serious about surprising the world. It is a new club, and I thought of accepting the opportunity to use the platform to show the world what I possess. I was so happy to also know that I am the first African to be signed by Atlanta United. It really excites me that I made history as well.
Q: How exciting will it be to play for a manager like Gerardo “Tata” Martino?
Otoo: Tata is a world-class coach. I am so happy to be instructed by a coach like him. I am very happy.
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Q: How old were you when you began playing soccer?
Otoo: At the age of 5.
Q: Is there a current professional you would compare your playing style to?
Otoo: Shaun Cameron Wright-Phillips of the New York Red Bulls
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
Otoo: Watch soccer highlights to improve my play, listen to music, talk to my mum, dad, sister, manager, friends, and former teammates of Charity Stars FC in Ghana.
Q: So far, what’s your favorite restaurant here in the United States?
Otoo: Right now, it is Chipotle. Maybe I will find better ones later.
Q: Lastly, what would you like to say to all the Atlanta United supporters?
Otoo: To all supporters of Atlanta United FC, I say I will surprise you. I will thrill you. I will give you so many reasons to keep loving the club. After all, Atlanta United FC has helped me make history. I intend on doing my best to make Atlanta United FC make history as well.