Colorado Rapids star Dillon Powers brushes aside Serie A rumors and aims for USMNT call-up

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Colorado Rapids star midfielder Dillon Powers grew up a fan of new LA Galaxy signing Steven Gerrard and studied FC Barcelona legend Xavi.

That might go a long way toward explaining the 24-year-old's game which has attracted national attention in 2015: tenacity and hard work mixed in with a dose of goals and assists. After notching 10 goals and 15 helpers in his first two seasons, he's had a hand in most of the Rapids' offensive production this year (a goal and two assists).

“I think [Powers] has been very bright for us,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni said this week. “The confidence that he’s playing with and the way he’s brought his teammates into the game, he’s been exceptional.”

It’s not just the offensive creation that’s impressed Mastroeni.

In Colorado’s only win, a 4-0 drubbing of FC Dallas on April 10, Powers tallied a goal and an assist and also recorded two defensive clearances late in the second half to help maintain the clean sheet.

“I think a lot of guys you’ve seen in the past at [the No. 10 position] don’t help the team on the defensive side of the ball,” Mastroeni said. “I think a guy that has his skillset on the attacking front and combines that with unlimited effort to help the team win when we don’t have the ball is a novelty to this game. It’s what makes him unique.”

For Powers, it all comes down to work rate, a valued instilled in him at an early age. His father, Michael Powers, played 16 seasons with the Dallas Sidekicks, a professional indoor team, and taught his son the fundamentals as a youth coach.

“Really what he taught me is what you do in practice isn’t enough,” Powers said. “You have to work outside the game, whether it’s physical, with the ball or mental.”

Putting in extra work is a value Powers took with him to college at Notre Dame, giving him something in common with then-teammate and current Chicago Fire attacker Harry Shipp.

“Harry and I were always the guys who put in a lot of work, practicing on our off days,” Powers recalls. “You really have to have quite a love for the game to do that. There’s a saying that goes: ‘The more you love something, the more you think about it.’ When I’m walking down the street, I’m thinking about soccer.”

Not just thinking about soccer, but watching it. And he's watched plenty of Xavi.

“Xavi’s more of a distributor, but I believe that’s my foundation. The foundation of making plays is to be composed in a tight area,” Powers said. “I’ve tried to transition more into the playmaking role by playing more dynamically.”

And now the rumors have begun to surface about a move abroad, fueled by his acquisition of an Italian passport this offseason. Serie A clubs Palermo and Atalanta are among the teams that have reportedly shown interest in the Rapids’ midfielder.

Powers brushed aside the chatter, “I haven’t had any connection with those teams.”

For now, Powers, who signed an extension with Colorado toward the end of last season, appears happily ready to continue his work with the Rapids.

“My goal right now is to be the best player I can be here," he said, "and possibly get a look on the national team.”

Marco Cummings covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.