Jhon Kennedy Hurtado has found exactly what he was looking for, and he found in it in the unlikeliest of places.
In the first five years of his professional career, he lived a bit of a nomadic lifestyle in Colombia, playing for six different clubs from when he made his debut with Union Magdalena in 2004 and when he came to the Sounders on loan in 2009. In that time, he never spent more than two seasons with any one team, playing on loan with teams all around Colombia.
Now in his fifth year with the Sounders, he has found a home in the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s really different. I played only one or two years with teams in Colombia. This is my fifth year with the Seattle Sounders and I’m so happy for that,” Hurtado said. “So is my family.”
That family has doubled since he came to Seattle, as Hurtado and his wife, Daysury, are now joined by their two sons, who were both born since he started playing with the Sounders.
Hurtado beams as he describes his children as American citizens, hoping he and his wife can one day join them. It’s a far cry from where his life was back in 2008.
Then, the Hurtados began entertaining the thought of moving outside of Colombia.
Just before coming to Seattle, he trained with AC Milan, so his wife was preparing for a move, just not one to the United States. When a move to Italy didn’t materialize, the newlyweds were happy to continue their lives in Colombia.
Then an opportunity arose with the Sounders and he started training with the team in preseason camp in Argentina.
“She and I had no idea that Seattle would be a possibility,” he said. “As soon as the opportunity came up, we started reading as much as we could on the computer. It was a very difficult decision to come here. I talked to my agent, then I talked to her and we made the decision and I’m so happy we came.”
In Seattle, he worked with one of his former Deportivo Cali teammates, Fredy Montero, and eventually found himself as a central figure to the Sounders FC’s success in their inaugural season in 2009.
He was a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year after starting 26 of Seattle’s 30 matches and earned the nod as an MLS All-Star.
“I never had any expectations. When I joined the team in Argentina, my mind was just on playing on the team at that time,” Hurtado said. “Ever since my first year with the team, it’s been a very, very good experience and I’ve loved playing for the team.”
Things weren’t always as glamorous as they were in the first season though.
After just nine matches in his second season in 2010, Hurtado suffered a torn ACL that would put him out of action until the start of the 2011 season. That left him with plenty of time to spend with his wife and oldest son, but he pined for the day when he would return to the field.
“It was really difficult for me and my wife. I had more time at home with my wife and kids, but I love soccer,” he said. “I hated being injured. I thought my career was done.”
Now with the ACL injury a long-past memory – he’s played 51 league matches since returning to the field in 2011 – Hurtado is again a staple in the Sounders lineup. He has started all six matches and played every minute of the young season for Sounders FC.
Alongside Djimi Traore, he has helped make up a solid defensive core that has two straight shutouts and will look to extend that streak on Saturday when the Sounders meet the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. It will start a stretch of eight days that will see the Sounders play three matches against three different opponents in three different time zones as the road trip will continue to Kansas City for a match against Sporting KC on May 8 and finish back in Seattle against the San Jose Earthquakes on May 11.