TUKWILA, Wash. — It's a little less crowded at Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper training these days than it was at the end of the 2012 season. Of the five men at the position on last year's roster, Josh Ford is one of three who survived the contract-renewing period to be back at Starfire on the first day of 2013 preseason.
"For sure, I'm very happy to be back with the team," Ford said after training on Monday. "I'm really happy that the Sounders organization has a lot of faith in me."
After being selected in the 2011 Supplemental Draft, Ford made two Reserve League appearances before coming down with a right knee injury, which lingered into the 2012 season. It was eventually diagnosed as a stress fracture, and he was out of action from February through June, when he made his return in the reserves.
Ford ended up with four Reserve League appearances, and he came off the bench to play 45 minutes in the mid-season friendly against Chelsea FC.
Monday, Ford said he finally feels back to 100 percent and that he is ready to assert his position on the team.
"Everything's feeling really good, so obviously, that's a plus. That's very comforting for me," he said. "I look to ... be a part of this preseason this year and definitely contribute the way I can to the team."
For a player expected to play a minimal role in competitive matches, Ford said his role is to train at his best every day and take any opportunity he may get. This season, that means pushing Michael Gspurning and Marcus Hahnemann, two goalkeepers with national team experience, for their spots.
"I'm still one of the younger guys, so it's still always going to be a grind, always a fight, but I think we're all going to be challenging each other every day just because that's what we try to do," Ford said. "We don't want to just be easing up on people just because he may be No. 1 or may be No. 2."
As last season showed when Gspurning was out and Bryan Meredith started 10 games in his absence, backup goalkeepers must be ready to play on short notice. Finding a way to stay sharp while training every day and seeing limited match action is vital.
"(There are) always options, always chances," Ford said. "You have to be ready to seize those chances. I'm not going to take it any differently than the years I have before. I'm just going to work really hard and do what I've been doing."