WASHINGTON — "Third-year professional" and "longest-tenured player" typically don't go hand in hand. But for Colorado Rapids midfielder Dillon Powers, that's his unusual reality.
After earning Rookie of the Year honors as the Rapids returned to the playoffs in 2013, Powers has been one of the few constants amid an organizational overhaul over the past two years. The evolution began when club legend Pablo Mastroeni took over from Oscar Pareja as coach, and the club has since moved on from a young core — which featured the likes of Clint Irwin, Shane O'Neill and Deshorn Brown — to leave Powers as the only remaining player from the 2013 knockout round loss to Seattle.
"It's always kind of sad to see some of your teammates move on, especially guys that you've developed connections with," Powers said on the Goal USA podcast. "It takes a while to develop a connection with players and chemistry. I think that has, for me, probably been the hardest part of the transition of players, but I think we've tried to establish more of a core group.
"We may not have been getting the results last year, but we were still growing and learning a lot from what we didn't do well last year, and the things we did do well. I'm looking forward to continuing with this group and keep finding those connections."
While the Rapids are coming off back-to-back years on the outside looking in at the playoffs, the recent additions of Shkelzen Gashi, Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard have brought the buzz back to Colorado. In Powers' mind, the Rapids now have more quality than at any other point during his MLS tenure.
"We're slowly starting to build a culture here," Powers said. "That's been kind of the focal point of this season. I think we have the guys to do it, and I think one thing we want to do is be a great team at home, a team that high presses, a team you're not going to want to play, a team that can make games ugly but score a lot of goals. I think we're starting to figure out who we are a little bit, and that's going to help us get some get some more results this year."
Check out the full episode of the Goal USA podcast below as Powers discusses what he took away from his father's own professional soccer career, looks back at his 2009 U-20 World Cup experience and explains how the movie "Room" left him in tears on the Rapids' most recent road trip.