Kortne Ford is back in Kansas City, and the hiatus was very short! Sporting Kansas City II announced today that the club had signed Ford to a contract. The terms were not disclosed.
This comes on the heels of Sporting KC, the first team, declining Ford’s option after the season. This came after he missed the entirety of the 2023 MLS season with an Achilles injury picked up in a preseason friendly against Real Salt Lake.
Sporting KC had indicated, after the 2023 season, they were interested in bringing Ford back to the team. There had been some speculation that maybe they wanted a lower-cost deal so they could stash him on the supplemental roster in case his injury history catches up with him again. Instead, in a bit of a surprise, he’s landed with SKC II.
As for his injury, when the KC Soccer Journal talked to Ford late in the season, he said he was feeling good and felt like he could play. Ford had even returned to practice. He was on the season-ending injury list at the time and was unavailable, but that seemed promising for the future.
A History of Bad Luck
Before signing with Sporting KC ahead of the 2022 season, Kortne Ford had dealt with a series of injuries in his time with the Colorado Rapids. He had missed multiple MLS seasons before joining SKC, where it seemed like his luck was turning around.
In his first season in Kansas City, Ford made some quality appearances before a suspension caused him to miss 10 games and impacted his and KC’s season. Then last year, he was expected to be the starting center back before going down with that aforementioned injury. Him missing the season led to Sporting KC signing Dany Rosero.
Can Ford Play for the First Team?
With the signing of a contract to SKC II, fans no doubt will wonder if Kortne can play for the first team. It’s MLS, so it’s a little complicated. We’ll base everything on the 2023 rules, since the 2024 rules aren’t out yet. These are subject to change.
Major League Soccer does have a rule allowing for “affiliate short-term agreements.” However, Ford won’t quality for that because you have to be under 25 and he’ll turn 28 towards the end of this month. There is, however, something called, “extreme hardship call-ups.” It would be pretty bleak if it happened, because SKC would have to have fewer than 16 outfield players for Ford to get loaned up. But in that situation, he could join on a short-term loan.
As for Leagues Cup or the US Open Cup, it varies by competition. Leagues Cup says you must follow the roster rules of your league, so that seems out. The US Open Cup seemingly sets no restrictions. It seems plausible this would be allowed, but MLS teams weren’t even sure they were participating a month ago. We should know more on that soon.
The short version, barring him signing a first team contract, it’s not likely Ford will be playing much, if at all, with the first team.
Who knows what assurances the team gave Kortne Ford when they signed him to a deal to SKC II. Perhaps, they are just seeing how his Achilles is recovering and keeping him in the fold.
Of the five center backs signed to the first team, only Andreu Fontas and Dany Rosero have extensive experience. Fontas is out of contract after the 2024 season, and he’ll turn 35 this season. The team also holds options on Robert Voloder, Robert Castellanos and Chris Rindov for 2025, but could move on from them after the year. Rosero has options through 2026, but they could also cut ties after this season.
Keeping Ford in the team is a smart move. When healthy, he has the potential to be a starting caliber center back in MLS, let alone MLS Next Pro, where he should be one of the best players on the field each week.
Unrelated, but congrats to Kortne and his new wife who just got married in the offseason. Looks like a beautiful wedding.