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Major League Soccer’s mid-season Rookie of the Year: Dillon Powers

Jul 10, 2013, 9:04 PM EDT

Clint Irwin AP

I’m not even going to pretend there’s an obvious choice here. Unless you didn’t read the headline, you know where we’re going with this one, but he may not even be the best rookie on his own team. And then there’s a certain defender in the northeast whose candidacy may gain momentum if New England’s defensive continues to shine. For now, though, we’re going with …

My pick: the Colorado Rapids’ Dillon Powers

Two winters back, Powers was rumored to be leaving Notre Dame after his junior year, the former U.S. U-20 midfielder set to forgo his last year in South Bend to start his professional career. Instead, the Texan decided to see out his NCAA eligibility, rounding out a senior year that saw him garner first team All-America honors.

When Colorado made him the 11th pick in January’s draft, Powers was that much more ready to go. As a result, the 21-year-old has been able to slot directly in the top of Oscar Pareja’s midfield, already accumulating 1561 minutes in his nascent career. With three goals and two assists, the former Fighting Irish midfielder has made a bigger, more immediate impact than most would have expected.

And not that he should get extra points for difficulty, but Powers has already provided us with one of the season’s highlights:

If that shot went into the stands, Powers would still our pick. Somebody behind DSG’s goal would have been seriously injured, and the special effects from Man of Steel wouldn’t seem so unrealistic after that carnage, but Powers would have still taken up this space.

Colorado was intent on going with youth this season, regardless, but with injuries to the likes of Martin Rivero, Powers hasn’t had any time to adjust to life in Major League Soccer. Which is fine, since it turns out he didn’t it.

Also in the picture: Deshorn Brown, Andrew Farrell; Long shot: Carlos Alvarez

If you want to give this award to Brown, you have my blessing. I know that’s what you were waiting for, and I’m happy to give it, because the effect a player like Brown has had on Colorado’s attack is obvious, Defenses have had trouble with the big 22-year-old’s, speed, size, and willingness. In 1297 minutes (18 games, 14 starts), the Jamaica-born forward has five goals and four assists, leaving him on pace for a very impressive final return.

Andrew Farrell’s numbers aren’t so impressive. Defenders’ never are. That’s not to say he hasn’t been a factor. The right back is a key part of the league’s best defense, and the difference when he’s out of the lineup is obvious.

Still, and this is where the objections come flying, there is a difference between a right back and a central midfielder, and while Farrell may very well be the better long-term prospect, position needs to be a factor in this discussion. If we’re talking about which player has had the better season — who has performed the best, not only absolutely but within the responsibilities of his position — Farrell’s position works against him.

If he’s been good but a central midfielder has been just as good, albeit in a more difficult role, shouldn’t the guy in the middle win out? It’s a potentially interesting debate.

  1. charliej11 - Jul 10, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    MLS just keeps getting better and the biggest improvement is the young Americans just like the ones you listed.

    You missed some great selections. Yeldin in Seattle being one. He is very close to leading the team in minutes, and probably would if he didn’t start for the U20 team. I like this one especially, as a young American guy replaces a highly touted Euro veteran and exceeds his performance by quite a bit.

    Who would have thought that was possible during his coaches’ (Schmetzer) playing days ? For you young guys…no one.

    • Richard Farley - Jul 10, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      Yedlin not getting a mention is a straight-out omission on my part. I wouldn’t have him in my top three, but given the discussion around him, I should have said something:

      The guy obviously has potential to spare, but when you get down to it, his flashes don’t lead to actual production … which is fine. Young guys need time. But his forays forward don’t actually produce anything but hope (or threaten that much), and his defense is a work in progress (I probably should leave it at that).

      I do think he’ll get a lot of attention and potentially compete for this award, which is exactly why I should have addressed him.

      Sorry for not addressing that in the post.

      • charliej11 - Jul 11, 2013 at 7:16 AM

        We agree 100% on Yedlin. He already has a lot to offer, but he is going to be great, not great already.

      • talgrath - Jul 11, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        I feel like, long-term, Yedlin will probably exceed the guys listed; he makes little mistakes, but he has the right instincts and those are impossible to train. Admittedly, that might not mean Yedlin gets the nod as rookie of the year, but I see a very bright future for him.

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