The Colorado Rapids have been decimated by injuries and suspensions this season, and they just took another blow. The MLS announced on Wednesday a one-game suspension of homegrown center back Kortne Ford.
Ford, a rookie who’s already filling in for the injured Axel Sjöberg, was assessed the suspension for a challenge in the ninth minute in the Rapids last game against Minnesota United FC. He elevated while trying to win an airborne ball, but Minnesota United forward Christian Ramirez was trying to field the ball with his chest on the ground. Ford’s elbows raised and struck Ramirez in the face.
Ford spoke with the Denver Post about how he disagrees with the suspension.
“[Ramirez] didn’t jump and I did,” Ford said. “I didn’t have my elbows out, it wasn’t a dirty play, but when one player jumps and the other one doesn’t, whether my arms are down or not, they’re going to be where his head is. That’s what happened. He was trying to bring it down with his chest, I was just trying to jump and win the ball with my head. I disagree [with the suspension] but that’s what it is.”
Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni also lent his opinion on the league’s decision.
“The disciplinary committee reviewed that play and thought it warranted a straight red,” Mastroeni said. “It’s their call. I thought he went in to win the ball.”
The Rapids will now have to deal with a severely depleted back line for their game against Orlando City FC, the team with the second best record in the MLS. There are only five defensive players available for the Rapids, and they must start four of them.
Expect Jared Watts to return to his usual starting center back role after serving his one game suspension. Eric Miller and Mekeil Williams are likely to retain their positions at left and right back. That leaves only recent USL signee Mike da Fonte and Bobby Burling for Mastroeni to choose from. Burling is the likely option due to his ability to play center back and his extensive MLS and Rapids experience.
For the upcoming match against Orlando City, the Rapids will be without four of their regular starters. Bismarck “Nana” Adjei-Boateng was injured in the first half of the April 15 game against Real Salt Lake and is expected to miss seven-to-nine more weeks. Sjöberg was initially ruled out for eight-to-ten weeks six weeks ago, so he should be nearing his return, but it’s highly unlikely that he’s fit for the match against Orlando City.
Tim Howard will serve the third game of his three-game suspension this Saturday, and the aforementioned Ford will be out for the Rapids as well. Zac MacMath will get his fourth start of the season for the Rapids. The away game against Orlando City this Saturday at 2 p.m. MT.