If there is a man that has endured his fair share of personal setbacks, it is a longtime Colorado Rapids fan-favorite Kortne Ford. And with each and every misfortune that he has experienced, there has been a comeback. Now, the 25-year old is on the rebound of his career.
Up until August 28, 2021, when he suited up with the USL Championship San Antonio Football Club (SAFC) on loan from the Rapids, Ford has been on-again, off-again dealing with persistent injuries to his left knee. The Rapids Development Academy (DA) Homegrown and University of Denver men’s soccer program standout has sat idle since his last MLS appearance for the Rapids on October 21, 2018 (he has suited up since then, but didn’t sub in).
He has had multiple surgeries, rehabbed in physical therapy clinics and gyms, returned to practice, and watched his teammates play from both afar on the north terrace of Dick’s Sporting Park — even from just a few feet away, while sitting on Robin Fraser’s bench.
In February of 2018, Ford played until the final whistle during Colorado’s Concacaf Champions League games against Toronto FC. A month later, he sustained a sprained medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee during a team scrimmage.
Ford sat out for five months rehabbing until he returned as a substitute on July 1. Ford then started in the remaining 14 games. The last time Ford saw playing time with the first team was during his then-regular starts as a center back on October 21, 2018, against the San Jose Earthquakes. Despite making a triumphant return to play during the second half of the 2018 season, Ford was experiencing very sharp pains in his knee. The issue was not detected in the previous MRIs. The issue persistent into the 2019 season and on June 21, 2019, Ford announced via a tweet that he was down but not out again. That morning he underwent season-ending surgery to repair both medial meniscus tear and his tibiofibular joint.
To all of my fans, friends, and family! Please have a read pic.twitter.com/Su1aJUANn6— Kortne Ford (@KortFord) June 21, 2019
During his subsequent recovery, Rapids’ Executive Vice President and General Manager Padraig Smith told the Last Word on Sports, “Anybody who knows Kortne knows how determined he is and how far he’s willing to push it to make sure he gets the opportunity to play soccer again. We’re going to continue backing him, continue to provide the platform to solve the issues that he’s facing, and get him back out onto the field. He’s put a huge amount in over the last two years. We have every confident and faith in him.”
Problems solved? Unfortunately not. As if it could not get any worse, he underwent yet another knee repair surgery on August 25, 2020, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Ford returned to the Mile High City and commenced another long round of rehabilitation that continued into the 2021 season. Since then he has been in a tenuous battle to save his promising career as a gifted footballer.
Ford shared his grit and determination during an interview with the Rapids prior to the start of the 2021 season:
Almost a year since his successful surgical procedures in Minnesota, good news finally arrived for the amiable man from Olathe, Kansas, who always sports an easy smile. After putting in 12 months to heal and regain his fitness, he was ready to earn competitive playing time. With the Rapids’ backline being deep in talent and playing well together, the Front Office elected to loan out Ford to the USL Championship San Antonio Football Club for the remainder of the season.
The Colorado Switchbacks could have been another option; however, their talented backline had solidified and was also playing well as a cohesive unit.
Soon after the transaction was announced, SAFC Head Coach Alen Marcina stated in a media release, “We are delighted to add Kortne Ford to the SAFC family and appreciate the Colorado Rapids’ help in conducting the loan, Kortne has the potential to add great value to our centerback position with his athleticism, competitiveness, and demonstrated resilient ways. As a staff, we are excited about the opportunity to work with Kortne and look forward to integrating him with the team.”
Ford has not disappointed his new team.
To date, he has made 9 starts in 9 games and logged over 800 minutes on the pitch. More so, he has picked up right where he left off with the Burgundy Boys, both as a tenacious defenseman and a goal-scorer.
The now-platinum blonde Ford has made 21 interceptions and has won 15 tackles and 22 aerial duels. More so, he has found the back of the net three times and has helped propel San Antonio up the ranks in the USL Championship Mountain Division. On September 18th he earned Man of the Match honors after his first-class efforts against Sacramento Republic FC.
Ford’s goals have also made the USL Championship highlight reels:
How about this diving header?— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) October 7, 2021
Kortne Ford finds the equalizer!#ELPvSA | @SanAntonioFC pic.twitter.com/PUdwkUOCU9
The Alamo City team is currently in second place, two points ahead of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks. The two sides face one another in the last game of the regular season in Texas on October 30.
Switchbacks General Manager and one of Ford’s former Rapids’ DA mentors Brian Crookham will be looking forward to that showdown and may even make the match to Toyota Field. Crookham is one of Ford’s many supporters. He recently told the Burgundy Wave that if there is one man to never best against it is Kortne Ford.
Crookham is right. Ford has a beat on a big comeback and is not holding back.
He is both self-motivated and inspired by his mother and champion, Laurie. “She’s my inspiration and she always will be,” Ford said soon after joining the Rapids as a 21-year old. “When I’m sore, when I don’t feel like getting out of bed, when I’m tired, she’s just constantly there…pushing me.” Ford also serves a rock to his mother who has been battling bone cancer since 2017. Ford, the Rapids, and thousands of supporters have been helping under right her treatment since through a GoFundMe campaign.
The Rapids organization, especially Head Coach Robin Fraser, have been in Ford’s corner throughout this entire multi-season ordeal. Fraser told the Denver Post last August that “he’s (Ford) really rested at nothing to try to get this alleviated and he’s been to see everyone that he can see... to finally get a surgery that we hope is going to have him turn the corner is a great thing.”
In an interview with the Burgundy Wave, Fraser added, “It will take some time, and he knows that it will take some time. But he is very committed to getting back to where he was before and even better.”
His recent play proves positive that he is nearly at 100% and also that he is having fun staring down any doubters of his abilities.
Ford is in the last year of his contract with the Rapids. The club has an option to pick him up next season. With centerback Drew Moor coming to the close of his stellar career and possible interest from abroad in other Rapids defensemen, Ford may just be positioned to find himself back in the mix of the Rapids backline in 2022, if not even sooner, as the Rapids head into the MLS playoffs this coming November.