COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Following the Colorado Rapids’ disastrous finish at the bottom of the Western Conference standings this season, the team’s front office will once again look to explore all options in building a competitive side for 2016.
That could very well mean selling one of their best young players.
“We have to remain open-minded to anything and everything that can help us get the results that we need next year,” Rapids vice president of soccer operations and technical director Paul Bravo explained to reporters during an end-of-season interview.
Anything and everything, including the possible sale of one of the team’s key building blocks in 24-year-old midfielder Dillon Powers. In an announcement earlier in the week, it was revealed Powers had departed for a two-week trial with English Championship side Reading. Bravo had previously referred to Powers as a player “to build around.”
“I still stand by that sentiment,” Bravo said. “If you look at his production, [Powers] has been a pretty consistent performer.”
The 2013 MLS Rookie of the Year notched at least three goals and six assists in each of his three seasons playing for Colorado, the kind of consistent production that's made him an attractive target for Reading.
“They’ve done their due diligence on the player,” Bravo said. “With the injury issues that they’ve been having, they’re looking at this as a potential to take Dillon on.”
Should Powers’ trial stint blossom into a full sale, it would mark the third time in nine months Colorado have sent one of their young players to Europe. In March, striker Deshorn Brown made the move to Norwegian side Vålerenga, and in August, Homegrown defender Shane O’Neill made the move to Belgium via a transfer to Cypriot club Apollon Limassol.
Like O’Neill, Powers has outwardly expressed his intent to play in Europe, outlining it as the next step in his career.
“If a young man has a dream and you’ve been there along with him, you’ve got to share in that dream,” Bravo said. “From Day 1, [Powers] has been very clear with his intentions. He’s a very sharp young man and has everything thought though. Europe is something that he would like to experience.”
Bravo acknowledged that the potential loss of Powers would be “very difficult” for the club, but Rapids team president Tim Hinchey remained optimistic about the upside that comes from being a player in the international transfer market.
“To be a successful club, you have to get into the player transfer market,” Hinchey explained. “In Deshorn, you get a free asset and use some of those proceeds to get a Kevin Doyle. Not all deals are going to be perfect, but we’ve taken it as an opportunity to serve the club well.”
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Should the Rapids obtain additional assets this offseason via transfer fees, those could be parlayed into Colorado’s own global scouting efforts.
“The net is cast wide right now,” Bravo said. “What we have begun to understand is we can compete financially with a lot of clubs and a lot of leagues around the world, with the exception of maybe the top leagues. But there are a lot of Spanish La Liga players wanting to come to this league at a price point you never saw before. We have to continue to expand, which we are.”
Colorado have already been linked to at least one La Liga player in Real Sociedad forward and Mexican international Carlos Vela. Bravo confirmed last week that Vela was on Colorado’s discovery list, but would not go into further detail regarding the player.
“What I wouldn’t want to do is speak about a player that we don’t have. That’s disrespectful to the other club and disrespectful to the player,” Bravo said. “We own priority over [Vela], so we have the first crack [in MLS] at signing him. There’s a reason why he’s on our discovery list. We don’t want to be frivolous about who we put on our discovery list, so there’s a reason why he’s there.”
While this offseason’s turnover may not prove to be as drastic as 2015’s overhaul – Bravo cited a core group to build around which included veterans Doyle, Sean St. Ledger and Sam Cronin – the Rapids’ technical staff has plenty of work ahead in the coming months.
“Certainly, some of the things we’re doing behind the scenes to mine for those players will be important,” Bravo said. “We have to do our due diligence to make sure the right players are coming to this club.”