COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Saturday saw the debut of the Rapids' new Designated Player Juan Ramirez in addition to New York City FC striker David Villa's first appearance in Colorado, but those players were not the ones garnering the headlines following the match.
Instead, it was a player who didn't even get the start in the Rapids' first game, in midfielder Dillon Powers.
“I think today he was exemplary,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni told reporters postgame. “Powers found himself all over the field. He found himself battling, pressing, fighting, defending and he also found himself in front of goal with some decent opportunities and creating some opportunities for the rest of the players. He put in a great shift."
Playing in his preferred No. 10 role, Powers made his first start of the 2015 season and proved to be the catalyst to a Rapids attack that outshot the visitors 21-9.
“As much as I’m centered in that role, I was trying to find where the space was,” Powers explained. “Thomas Müller once said his position is to be ‘an interpreter of space’ and that’s what I want my position to be.”
Powers showed his best stuff in the first half when the Rapids had a total of seven shots. He produced three of those, including a low shot on target in the opening minutes.
“We wanted to get balls in behind early. I think [Dominique] Badji and I did a pretty good job,” Powers added.
With Colorado playing on the front foot from the opening whistle, the Rapids executed a game plan which showed that offense is sometimes the best defense.
“If they are constantly having to run with us, then it helps defensively,” the third-year player added. “They were tired, you could see that in the first half. They were gassed already, so it makes guys like [Villa and Mix Diskerud] a little less effective.”
Powers played for a total of 73 minutes in his first 2015 start, coming off for Ramirez, one of the Rapids' two new attacking DPs for 2015. The start was a positive one for Powers, who has been working hard to crack Mastroeni’s starting lineup since preseason, but it was also a sign that the 24-year-old still has a ways to go to match the form he displayed during his 2013 Rookie of the Year campaign.
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“I cramped up there at the end. I haven’t played a full 90 since the end of last season,” Powers explained. “I was a little disappointed that I had to come off with a cramp because I feel like I had a little something left in me as far as a goal.”
Still, there's work to do, as the Rapids' offense has yet to score their first goal of 2015 with the team still looking to end their current 16-game winless streak which stretches back to last season.
“More often than not, we’re going to win if we played like we did today,” Powers said of Colorado’s performance. “I was happy I got some shots off, but I feel there’s more. I think that’s the sense with all the guys. It was a good performance but we really wanted that three points and we feel like we could’ve had it today.”