Rookie of the Year candidate Dillon Powers battling concussion ahead of Colorado Rapids season finale

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Dillon Powers isn’t there quite yet. But the Colorado Rapids are quietly optimistic that they’ll have their standout rookie midfielder back in action soon.

Powers suffered a concussion in the second half of the Rapids’ 5-1 win over the Seattle Sounders on Oct. 5 and has missed the team’s last two matches, but the midfielder said on Wednesday that he’s targeting a possible return to action in the season finale on Sunday in Vancouver.

“Dillon is better,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said Wednesday. “He’s training almost normal with no contact so far. His progression is very encouraging to at least have him available for the weekend. But we keep saying the health of the players is the priority, and we will wait to see."

Powers was set to see a neurologist on Wednesday to receive the results of an MRI and check on his progress. One of MLS’ top candidates for the Rookie of the Year award, the Notre Dame product trained on Wednesday without a helmet, but he still needs to be able to head the ball before returning to action, something he was unable to do last week.

“I tried [last] Tuesday, it kind of felt worse after,” Powers said. “If you don’t have symptoms, you can go on to the next step, and I did have symptoms, so the rest of the week I didn’t feel I was ready to do it. So it’s kind of, in a sense, in my court, when I can do the header test. I’m not up to it yet, that’s kind of what’s stopping me.”

Despite the overall progress in his condition, in all likelihood, the 22-year-old will miss a start on Sunday. With the Rapids’ playoff berth all but locked up (it would take a Rapids loss combined with the San Jose Earthquakes winning by 13 or more goals for Colorado to not make the postseason), Pareja indicated on Wednesday that he may take a more conservative approach regarding injured players this weekend to have them fully ready for the postseason.

“I want to get back as quick as possible, obviously at this point of the year it kind of sucks to miss out on these important games, after kind of fighting all season,” Powers said. “[There’s] not much I can do besides rest and not do too much and wait for the swelling to go down and headaches.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.