CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- While other players were relaxing, or perhaps getting ready for the coming MLS season, Colorado Rapids midfielder Dillon Powers obtained an Italian passport in the offseason.
The news, which Powers tweeted about last month, may have been a surprise to many, but the player insisted it was a way to expand his career options, as Americans with European passports can facilitate moves to European clubs much more easily than those without.
Still, Powers maintained his sights are focused at present on the Rapids.
“It’s hard to predict for me what’s ahead," he told MLSsoccer.com at Rapids preseason training in San Diego last week. "Obviously the passport opens a lot of doors. But for me, I’m just kind of taking it year by year. This year, I’m really focused on this team and winning a championship here.”
For the sake of US national team fans who may want to see Powers called up one day, he did clarify that regardless of the Italian passport, he is "certainly" still eligible to play for the USMNT.
The 2013 MLS Rookie of the Year experienced the Rapids' troubles last season firsthand, as they limped to a 14-game winless streak to conclude the campaign, though his own statistics mostly met or exceeded the numbers he put up in his first season.
Powers explained that he believed one of the issues for Colorado in 2014 was a "lack of identity" for the squad, but that the early indications this year was that Pablo Mastroeni's group would have a much better definition of themselves.
"I think we’re going to be a very hard-working team, but a team that’s going to attack with 11 and defend with 11. And we have some very good players in the midfield, in the center of midfield, and hopefully that’s going to be our engine," Powers said.
As for that midfield, Powers has enjoyed starter status with the Rapids his first two seasons. With the likes of Marcelo Sarvas, Sam Cronin and Argentine newcomer Lucas Pittinari joining the team this year, Powers was asked if he was concerned about a potential logjam in the center of midfield.
"I’m sure the coaches have something in mind," he said. "The bottom line is there’s competition at every position, especially in the midfield. But for me I’m really excited about that, because I’m surrounded by some great players now. I can learn from them, and also benefit a lot from their talent."
- Check out more Rapids news at ColoradoRapids.com
Like other players at training, Powers said that to make the playoffs is a goal for the team and is "always an accomplishment" in MLS. But the 23-year-old was also optimistic the Rapids could set their sights even higher for the coming season.
“I think the end goal is always a championship," he noted. "And I think we have a much better chance of that this season with the experience we’ve brought in. I certainly feel much more optimistic and excited about this team because of that.
"So I think getting into the playoffs and going as far as we can and winning a championship is not something we think is out of our grasp.”