24 Under 24: #23 Dillon Powers, Colorado Rapids

23. Dillon Powers

Pos: M | Colorado Rapids | Age: 22

Asked to step into a key role from day one because of an injury to playmaking midfielder Martin Rivero, the Rapids rookie has exceeded expectations in his first year on the job. The Notre Dame product made his way onto this list by playing outside his comfort zone (and excelling) as an attacking midfielder, while also sliding back to man the holding mid role he played in college. Powers, the former US U-18 and U-20 international, hasn't had difficulty adapting to either position, scoring four goals and dishing out five assists in 27 starts. “Every game is teaching him something else and the best part with Dillon is he’s like a sponge,” Rapids coach Oscar Pareja said earlier this season. “He’s growing and he understands it’s not quite there yet and he needs to keep improving, and that’s encouraging for the coach.”

What TDs and coaches like: "Dillon is cerebral, he's smart, he sees the field well. He doesn't try to overplay, he simplifies the game for himself. ... I thought he wasn't going to be quick enough and mobile enough to be a good central midfielder in the league. But playing in a middle three has allowed him a little bit of cover defensively and allowed him to make the game, which as a rookie, it's pretty impressive that he's been able to do a lot of that. ... He's got a great strike from distance, he is a good ball striker, but he sees a couple plays ahead and whatever physical limitations he might have, his mind solves them pretty quickly. ... The system that they have him playing in allows him to flourish. ... He's a very good passer of the ball, he's got a good first touch and he's a strong kid – he doesn't get shrugged off the ball or lose those physical battles, he does pretty well with that. ... Rivero, who was their best player last year, can't even get in the starting lineup because Powers is playing so well – good size and good strength and Rivero's a little guy. Powers is still making the game enough to be successful."

Where TDs and coaches want improvement: "If you wanted to nitpick, could he get a little bit fitter and maybe a little bit lighter and faster? ... The only thing he doesn't have is pace. To be fair, he's never had pace. ... If he can develop a quicker first step, he'll open up more space for his shot and playmaking. That little bit of explosiveness could really help his game."

Opta Says: Dillon Powers leads all players under the age of 24 in chances created (61), and is fifth in MLS overall during 2013.
 

Tale of the Tape
Last Year in 24U24: N/A
Castrol Index (as of 9/16/13): #94

2013 Stats
Matches played: 28
Matches started: 27
Goals: 4
Assists: 5

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