Kortne Ford’s first professional goal 11 minutes into the match would be the difference as the Colorado Rapids edged Sporting Kansas City 1-0 on Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
The Rapids Homegrown got on the end of a perfectly placed cross by Shkelzen Gashi after Dominique Badji was taken down just outside the box. Ford anticipated the ball well and redirected his header to the bottom left corner to give the home side the early lead.
“He’s a special player in that he realized that he’s got ways to go,” head coach Pablo Mastroeni said postgame about Ford. “He comes in every day and works hard. He has a lot of intention in his learning and he’s absorbing a lot of information. I think what you saw tonight has nothing to do with that, it has everything to do with heart and commitment. In life there are greater challenges and he’s blessed to be able to play football. Tonight was an exemplary performance by a young man. He’s a fighter, doesn’t quit and doesn’t make excuses.”
Following a crushing road defeat at Philadelphia Union last weekend, Mastroeni would make four changes to the lineup, while sticking with the 4-4-2 formation. Ford and Marlon Hairston returned to the back line, Dillon Powers was once again paired alongside Micheal Azira in the center of the field, and Badji would go up top as the second forward.
Immediately after going down, Sporting KC would turn it on and dominate possession of the ball, outshooting the Rapids along the way 25-6. The visitors came close a number of times throughout the evening but Mastroeni’s men defended well and eventually earned their third shutout of the season.
Sporting KC’s best chance of the first half came in the 28th minute, when Graham Zusi found himself all alone on the right side of the box. The USMNT international chipped the ball over Tim Howard, but Bobby Burling was there to head the ball off the goal line.
The second half was more of the same story. SKC created plenty of half-chances through Latif Blessing, Benny Feilhaber and Gerso Fernandez but the Rapids kept the danger away. The best opportunity would come in the dying moments of the match as left back Seth Sinovic blasted a left-footed rocket from 25 yards out but the ball would skim off the crossbar for a Rapids goalkick.
“I was speechless,” Ford said of his first pro goal. “We obviously had a gameplan in that we were going to fight and get a result. We didn’t know how it was going to look but we had to get it. I was just happy that I put that one away and happy that I could do that for the team but more importantly, that was for my mom.”
The Rapids (3-8-1; 10 points) will play their second of four consecutive home matches next Saturday night against Columbus Crew SC. Kickoff at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.