May 30, 2014
By Steve Lewis - UConn Athletic Communications
STORRS, Conn. - UConn record-holder and Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Josh Ford may be coming off two knee injuries in the past two seasons, but the former Husky is excited for his future in Major League Soccer.
Ford, who played in Storrs from 2007-2010, has spent three seasons in the Sounders organization, fighting off injuries and getting play time wherever and whenever possible. Though he is yet to play for Seattle, Ford believes he is in a good position entering his fourth MLS season.
"I've always been a hard worker, so I have that on my side," said Ford. "I've had a few setbacks. For a goalie, it's a longer year and a longer time of playing and so right now it's about staying healthy and getting ready for when my time comes. The best way to deal with it is to just keep working and improving each day."
The last two seasons for Ford have been interrupted by injury, both of which resulted in significant time missed. A knee injury in May of 2012 caused him to miss two months, while a right patella fracture a year later shut him down for the season.
"It's been a long recovery and rehab, trying to get healthy," said Ford. "As of now, I'm doing well and am trying to move forward. Now my play just needs to get better and I think it's headed in the right direction."
Seattle has such faith in Ford that even after his injury in 2012, the organization renewed his contract on the first day of the 2013 preseason. He is currently the third string goalkeeper, behind Stefan Frei and Marcus Hahnemann.
Most recently, Ford was loaned out for a weekend to the Orange County Blues, who play in the USL Professional Division. While with the Blues, Ford played in one match against the Oklahoma City Energy, recording the win in a 1-0 shutout on May 10.
Not only did Ford keep the Energy off the scoreboard, but he also recorded an unlikely and spectacular assist for the eventual game-winning goal. A long goal-kick by Ford in windy conditions gave the ball some extra sail, getting a high bounce that went over the defender's head and was chipped in by teammate Gibson Bardsley in the 90th minute of regulation.
"I've had some close opportunities for an assist, but I didn't expect that," said Ford about the game-winner. "The wind definitely helped. I was just happy the team got the win away from home. I was happy to contribute with the assist."
Ford has since returned to Seattle from Orange County and is excited for future opportunities with the Sounders. Throughout the past three seasons, Ford has played several games in the MLS Reserve League.
In his first MLS season, Ford played in two Reserve League matches, gaining experience in the professional game during his rookie year. After returning from his injury in 2012, he played in four Reserve League matches, posting a record of 2-2-0. In 2013, he played only one match before being placed on the Disabled List.
"Those were some of the best chances besides playing in real games," said the former UConn keeper. "The key is to get game experience and time. I've done well with the chances I've had and the opportunities that were given to me. It's a good experience, especially if you're not getting minutes with the first team."
Playing in live action has allowed Ford to stay sharp and get touches in game settings, which he believes will help him prove his readiness for MLS competition.
Ford was drafted in the first round of the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft by Seattle after using all of his eligibility at UConn. After redshirting as a freshman in 2006, Ford would go on to set school records in shutouts (50), consecutive starts (85) and wins (54) over the next four seasons. All three records are still intact.
"It's always nice to say you have records at your alma mater, but eventually they'll probably be broken," said Ford. "I can definitely see some of the talent coming through like Andre Blake and others who will compete and probably beat those records."
Blake made MLS history this past year by becoming the first goalkeeper to be selected No. 1 overall in the MLS SuperDraft, being chosen by the Philadelphia Union. Ford recalls spending some time with Blake when he returned to watch a game at UConn.
"I was down a couple years ago to see UConn play and I did a training session with him (Blake)," said Ford, who congratulated Blake after he was drafted. "I just helped him with things like staying focused and I saw that he had a bright future."
With Ford now healthy and determined, the former Husky is working hard every day to earn a starting position in the MLS. It is through his experiences that he has learned to always have an edge over the competition, no matter how big or small.
"A lot of people have the talent, but some hard work can really go a long way in someone's career," said Ford. "When you get to the pros, everyone is as fast and as technical so you need to find the small things that you do really well to give yourself an advantage."
If his work ethic and perseverance are indicators of what the future holds for Josh Ford, then it is looking very bright.