Rapids Teammates Turned Rivals Set For USL Showdown
The date was April 9, 2017. The venue was Children’s Mercy Park, the home of Sporting Kansas City. The visitors were the Colorado Rapids.
Making his MLS debut that day was a 21-year-old Kortne Ford, born just months before the league kicked off, who had come through the Rapids’ development academy.
Also playing that day was a former MLS Rookie of the Year winner, making his 124th appearance for the Rapids. Dillon Powers stepped on as a 73rd minute substitute, for Nana Boateng, playing the remainder of the 3-1 loss.
In all, Ford and Powers played 10 minutes alongside each other, before the former was switched out for Bobby Burling with seven minutes to go.
Powers would move to Orlando City in the summer, whereas Ford would feature in 34 more games across seasons 2017 and 2018. It was a knee injury, sustained in March of 2018, and which numerous surgeries failed to fully remedy, that ultimately threatened to end his career before it had got going.
As doctors struggled to repair the damaged knee, Ford sat out seasons 2019, 2020, and a good portion of 2021, until returning on August 28 for San Antonio, marking 1,042 days since his last outing, for the Rapids at San Jose Earthquakes on the final day of the 2018 season.
The pair will come together again on Saturday night in the USL Championship Western Conference final, on opposing teams. Powers is now at Orange County, via a spell in Scotland with Dundee United. Ford has been on loan at San Antonio FC, from the Rapids, since August 19.
Very much different journeys have brought these two players to this point, with a place in the USL Championship Final at stake.
Orange County will host, and the winners will tackle either Tampa Bay Rowdies or Louisville City in the league’s showcase affair on November 28. Two-time winners Louisville are captained by Wheat Ridge-born Paolo DelPiccolo, once of Real Colorado and a former Rapids Reserves player.
Both Eastern Conference semifinals were 1-0 scorelines last weekend. In the West, Orange County needed extra-time and penalties to see off Oakland Roots. Powers took and converted the second spot kick as they edged through 6-5 on penalties. Among the Oakland scorers was former Rapids defender Joseph Nane. San Antonio had things a little easier with a 3-1 home win over Rio Grande Valley.
Orange County finished second in the Pacific Division at the end of the 32-game regular season, with a 15-10-7 record. They narrowly defeated Colorado Springs Switchbacks 1-0 in the Conference quarterfinals, before the nervy victory over Oakland Roots.
San Antonio, meanwhile, finished second in the Mountain Division, with a 14-8-10 record. They then enjoyed wins over San Diego Loyal (2-0) and RGV.
Orange County versus San Antonio, and something of a Rapids reunion, can be seen on ESPN+ on Saturday night, from 8pm MT.
About the author: Since 2013, Richard Fleming has been the TV commentator and host, covering the Colorado Rapids in Major League Soccer. During 16 years with the BBC, he covered two FIFA World Cups, five Africa Cup of Nations, a FIFA Confederations Cup, and a European Championship. He has also covered UEFA Champions League, English Premier League, and football at all levels of the game during more than 30 years covering the sport.