Today, the Colorado Rapids signed University of Denver defender Kortne Ford and Creighton University midfielder Ricardo Perez as Homegrown Players. Ford and Perez mark the fourth and fifth Homegrown Player signings in Rapids history, and both have high hopes for making an impact on the team.
“What I’m focusing on is just trying to get better every day,” Perez said. “That’s my main focus. Coming in, putting in hard work, focusing, and we’ll see what happens after that, but I’m ready to compete for a spot and I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Perez came up through the Rapids Development Academy, spending five years in the system before playing at Creighton University in Nebraska. His last two years in the DA, he was captain of the U-18s. In 2016, Perez was named 2016 Big East Midfielder of the Year, and was co-captain of the Creighton Bluejays. He never missed a game, and in his 88 matches for the school, Perez scored 15 goals and had nine assists. He is a native of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, but his family moved to Fort Collins when he was eight years old.
Ford was born in Kansas, but moved to Greeley with his mom when he was 12, and joined the Development Academy in 2012. He played for the U-16 and U-18 teams, and then with the Rapids Reserves for a year. Even though he had offers to play soccer at prestigious programs around the country, Ford decided to stay in Denver, making his mark at the University of Denver. There were rumors that he would sign with the Rapids after his sophomore year, but Ford decided to stay at DU for one more year.
“I believe that I’m ready to step in,” Ford said. “I’m glad that I waited because I had a good year.” A good year is a bit of an understatement—Ford helped DU get their first-ever College Cup trip this year, earning an All-Summit League First Team selection and a Top Drawer Soccer Second Team All-America along the way. As a center back, he led the third best defense in the country in goal against average and shutout percentage.
And what did Ford gain by staying at DU for an extra year? “As a center back, you need to be able to hit a consistent switch ball, and I feel like I did that,” he explained. “Set pieces were good for me. My sophomore year, I didn’t have any goals, and this past year I had five, all off set pieces.” He also worked on his headers on set pieces, his left foot, curling balls in, and some other small things to prepare himself for MLS.
Head coach Pablo Mastroeni said this about Perez and Ford: “A part of what we’re trying to do here at the club is develop players. I think these two guys are real bright spots who have earned the right to get to this level and really just looking forward to working with them.
With both of them, I’d say the most important thing is the mentality, the desire to get better every day, and I think that’s the most important thing... They’re both dynamic players, they’re both cerebral players, and I think with the good, experienced group that we have, they’ll fit right in.”