"It's a big sigh of relief," the 23-year-old said. Ford hopes to impress enough to take over for Kasey Keller next season.

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Perhaps the most competitive battle in Sounders FC training camp has finally been resolved: Rookie Josh Ford will be the team’s third goalkeeper.

Drafted out of Connecticut in the MLS supplemental draft, Ford is expected to be signed by the end of the week.

“It’s a big sigh of relief,” the 23-year-old said.

For over a month, Ford had been in a neck-and-neck battle with fellow rookie Bryan Meredith — one of Seattle’s four second-round picks in the SuperDraft — for a lone roster spot backing up starting goalkeeper Kasey Keller and the team’s No. 2, Terry Boss.

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Coach Sigi Schmid declared Ford the winner after Sounders FC’s 3-1 win against Colorado in a preseason game Wednesday.

“It’s really good to be with a great team,” said Ford. “I’ve experienced a little bit of it, with the fans and everything like that, and I couldn’t ask for more. (I’m) really excited to be behind Kasey and Boss, but I’m still going to be competing every day and learning every day.”

The good news for Ford came with some other responsibilities, like finding a permanent residence in Seattle. Compared to weeks of cutthroat competition in goal, apartment hunting should be no problem.

And surviving one roster battle, Ford said, will prove to be valuable later on.

“It’s going to help me when we’re fighting for that spot after Kasey retires — to show what I have, to continue to progress and be in contention for a No. 1 spot,” Ford said. “That’s everyone’s goal: to be a starter. You don’t come here and look to be behind someone. You take what you can when you get it. I’m just going to hold my head up high and keep working.”

Schmid added the team won’t turn its back on Meredith, the runner-up in the race.

“We’re trying to help him find something as well and I think he’s got a couple possibilities to play at,” Schmid said. “It was a tough (decision) and Bryan’s a very talented guy as well.”

Catching up with Nyassi

After scoring some big goals for Sounders FC last year, and significantly improving over the course of the season, midfielder Sanna Nyassi was looking forward to a big 2011 in Seattle. The young Gambian, however, wasn’t protected in November’s expansion draft. He was selected by Vancouver and later traded to Colorado, where he played as a reserve for the Rapids in Wednesday’s preseason game.

Nyassi said being unprotected by Seattle “was a little bit painful” and unsettling, but he will always have a special place in his heart for Sounders FC.

“I’m still part of the Sounders,” he said. “Even if I’m gone, my spirit is still with them. I wish them good luck this season.”


• Sounders FC MF Steve Zakuani, who suffered a hip injury Wednesday, was scheduled to have an MRI on Thursday. Another player in doubt for the season opener is Brad Evans, who suffered a hamstring injury against the Rapids. Evans said he expected to be out one to three weeks, but Schmid didn’t rule the 25-year-old out of Tuesday’s game.

• MF Mike Seamon, who has been recovering from a leg injury, practiced Thursday for the first time after a long absence. Schmid said forward Mike Fucito (hip) could rejoin training in two or three weeks.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com

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