BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Defender Kortne Ford was the unlikely hero for the MLS Homegrown Team, rising to head home an injury-time equalizer to ensure a 2-2 tie against a well-drilled Chivas de Guadalajara U-20 side at Toyota Park Tuesday night in the 2017 MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer.
“Erik (Palmer-Brown) and I were back there talking about it, we decided that [after the] 85th minute we were going to try and get a result,” Ford said. “So I told him I’d push forward and I just told the guys that any time we get the ball wide past the half to put the ball in and me and Jordan (Hamilton) would go up for it and that’s exactly what happened. I’m just grateful that I got that opportunity to go up and win the header.”
Ford, 21, was one of five MLS starters to go the full 90 minutes as the Homegrown side saw an early 1-0 lead turn into a 2-1 deficit after goals by Jose de Jesus Godinez and Ruben Dominguez.
Even with that capitulation, Ford impressed in an adventurous back-three lineup alongside Auston Trusty and Justen Glad, who made way for Palmer-Brown at half-time. His strong defensive display and late heroics saw him claim MVP honors to cap an excellent evening for the Kansas native, who has started nine of his side’s 20 regular-season games since making his debut on April 9.
“At first it’s an honor," he said of the award, "but once you step on that field you should be striving to play to the best of your ability. Obviously MVP itself isn’t in the back of my head when I’m playing the game but once it’s done and said it’s amazing.”
Despite training together just once before taking the field against Mexico’s top underage setup, Ford paid tribute to the character and resilience of his teammates who helped make his maiden Homegrown Game such a memorable success.
“It was a great experience,” he added. “Some of these guys have been together in the US national team [youth system] and I never got that opportunity coming up as a young player. It’s just an honor to be in here with this group of guys. We trained hard, we got to train one day, it was hot and humid. It’s tough to bring a group of guys together to fight and be as resilient as we were tonight when we haven’t played together. That’s a side [Chivas] that’s been together, trained together and played together for quite a while now, so the resiliency we had tonight was amazing and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.”