On Sunday evening at Children's Mercy Park, rookie defender Kortne Ford became the first Rapids Homegrown player to earn a spot in the Starting XI on their professional debut. Ford was given the nod by Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni against Western Conference rival Sporting Kansas City.
Earlier in the year, Ford recalled chasing his dream from a young age: "I can remember as early as second grade in reading group telling people that I wanted to be a professional soccer player. You know, you tell people along the way, they laugh and giggle, some people believe, some people don’t, but at the end of the day I achieved that goal."
Ford joined the Rapids Development Academy in 2012 from Colorado Storm North Soccer Club. He would go on to play for the U-16 and U-18 teams before joining the Rapids Reserves during the 2013-14 seasons.
He continued to pursue his passion at the University of Denver, where he made 62 appearances over three seasons, scoring five goals with three assists. All five goals came in 2016, a year in which DU made their first-ever trip to a College Cup, while also finishing unbeaten during the regular season for the second consecutive year.
Dillon Serna was the last Rapids Homegrown player to make their debut, on October 27, 2013 in the 3-0 loss at Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Serna went on to earn his first start on March 15, 2014 under the leadership of Pablo Mastroeni.
Previous Rapids Homegrown player's debuts:
- GP 3, GS 0
- Debut vs. HOU on 10/27/2012 - played the last four minutes, in place of Jeff Larentowicz (Rapids won 2-0)
- Never started a game for the Rapids in MLS
- GP 52, GS 48
- Debut vs. POR on 9/5/2012 - played the last four minutes, in place of Jeff Larentowicz (Rapids won 3-0)
- First start came in his third appearance, and a 2-2 home tie with POR, on 3/30/2013
- GP 55, GS 29
- Debut @ VAN on 10/27/2013 - played the last 13 minutes, in place of Deshorn Brown (Rapids lost 3-0)
- First start came in his second appearance, the 1-1 tie at NYRB on 3/15/2014