Editorial (October 20, 2017) – With the end of the 2017 MLS regular season this Sunday, the American Soccer community is buzzing with talk of season awards. We already have the (initial) list of MVP candidates for the year. When looking at Rookie of the Year, there’s a clear favorite. That doesn’t mean others don’t deserve consideration or a nomination. It might not be hug,e but there should be a Colorado Rapids Kortne Ford Rookie of the Year hype train.
Kortne Ford Rookie Of The Year Consideration
In many ways, these awards are a popularity contest. While I don’t agree with that thought process, I do subscribe to the mantras “did he make his team better?” and “did he help his team make the playoffs, win something, etc?”
Julian Gressel deserves the 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year award. He’s got 5 goals and 9 assists in just under 2,000 minutes played. He’s been an excellent depth option for Atlanta United FC. When he’s been asked to start due to injuries or squad rotation, he’s stepped into the lineup without missing a beat.
Does it help that he’s playing on a playoff team with a bunch of stars? Yes. Does it help that he’s playing on a team that plays attractive attacking soccer with great fan support? Yes.
Take Julian Gressel off Atlanta, and they go from having a chance to finish second in the Eastern Conference to firmly fifth or sixth. Home field will be huge in the playoffs, and Gressel’s play helped set up Atlanta to make an run at MLS Cup. For these reasons, Julian Gressel should win Rookie of the Year.
Why Kortne Ford Deserves Consideration:
Having a favorite doesn’t mean there isn’t competition for the other nominations. Being a nominee can be a huge honor in itself. Kortne Ford deserves consideration for Rookie of the Year, at the very least, a nomination.
Rapids Interim Head Coach Steve Cooke complemented a number of players when asked about the contenders for the award:
“I think there’s been several great candidates [for Rookie of the Year]. Julian Gressel has been one. Jack Elliot is having a good season, so he would be a candidate. [Jake] Nerwinski in Vancouver has been a candidate and I think Kortne Ford is equally as deserving of that award as any of those players,” Cooke told Last Word on Soccer.
Ford has played in 1,637 minutes across 19 matches this season. He stepped into huge shoes at center back when Bobby Burling and Jared Watts were dealing with injuries. He helped shut down aerial attacks alongside Axel Sjoberg and Tim Howard.
His first professional goal was the game winner in a match at Sporting KC. He also played a memorable role in the Homegrown game during MLS All Star weekend.
Cooke went on to say that Gressel would be the blockbuster marketing pick. He added that Ford is “deserving of the Rookie of the Year and he’s got a great future.”
Ford was awarded the Fan Favorite and Young Player of the Year for the Rapids earlier this week. He also has one of the stories of the year, given what he and his mother have been through.
The 21-year-old isn’t focused on awards right now. He’s focused on beating Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday and after that, the off-season.
“I got a great amount of experience that’s going set me up for next year. To be in the talks for Rookie of the year, it’s great. But that’s not what I’m focused on. I’m just focused on my development as a player,” Ford said after the last home game.
He went in to say that preparation has been a big part of his year and that he’s learned a lot from his mistakes in games.
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity and to have gotten as many minutes as I have this rookie season.”
Whether he get nominated or even wins Rookie of the Year, expect Kortne Ford to stay humble and hungry. Shinning a trophy doesn’t count as an off-season workout.