With nearly 2,000 minutes played, four goals and five assists, it's hard to tell that Colorado Rapids midfielder Dillon Powers is just a rookie. A four-year standout at Notre Dame, Powers has become a Rapids mainstay and an integral part of Colorado's climb to a second-place tie with Vancouver in MLS's Western Conference Standings. Fresh off a 1-1 tie that kept the team's 8-game unbeaten streak alive, Powers cleared some time to talk about his transition from Notre Dame to the MLS, soccer's profile in the U.S., honing skills in his hallway, and frequenting Chipotle.
SI: Your teammate Drew Moor said on Twitter that you eat everything. Have you got a big appetite?
Powers: I'm always eating food off his plate. That's probably why he said it.
FACT Moor is a fellow Texas native who Powers credits with helping him get acclimated to to life in the MLS. Here's Moor heading in a goal on a Powers corner kick.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Colorado?
I have to say Chipotle. I go there too often to not say it. You just can't wrong wrong there.
Any story behind your nickname, "Power Hour"?
Well, I gave that name to myself.
Sounds like a possible 5-Hour Energy endorsement deal there.
Maybe! I wouldn’t shy away from that.
FACT Powers played four years at Notre Dame, scoring 10 goals in 78 games. In his senior season he earned NSCAA First Team All-American, All-Great Lakes Region First Team, and All-Big East First Team honors.
Football is obviously king at Notre Dame. Do people care about soccer?
It's a growing environment. It's football first there—always has been. That's the big money maker. But it's a great soccer environment and a great place be in for the players. We had an excellent staff and we got treated very well.
Hardest part about transitioning from collegiate to professional soccer?
I think each game you have to bring your A game. It's highly demanding to get a win. You can't take plays off. That’s probably the biggest thing. Also the pace is faster, so that’s been a natural adjustment I've had to make.
FACT The Rapids selected Powers with the 11th overall pick in the 2013 MLS draft, after acquiring the pick from Chicago in a trade that sent midfielder Jeff Larentowicz to the Fire.
Most meaningful goal or assist you’ve notched so far?
I think the goal I had in Montreal that tied the game up. We were down 2-1 on the road. That was one of the biggest games of the year for us. It was kind of a statement victory for us, snapped a losing streak and got us going on a roll.
What do you think has been the biggest factor behind Colorado's recent surge?
Guys are getting healthy. We began the year with a lot of new players, myself included. The whole team is very new. Road games like the one in Montreal really helped. We understand what coaches the want from us and we've executed better over this stretch. I think we've really come together as a group and found our identity.
What is that identity?
We've got a blue collar mentality about us. We play with a chip on our shoulders.
FACT Powers scored his fourth goal against the Los Angeles Galaxy on July 27 in a 2-0 victory.
Off the field, what’s been the hardest part transitioning from academia to playing soccer professionally?
We get a lot more free time. It was interesting over the first two months. As a student-athlete you get used to multitasking and making the most of your time. You strive to be successful on the field and also in school. But now we play soccer for three hours and we're done for the day. Now I've got this free time and I'm trying to figure out what to do. I've been thinking more about the environment and I'm doing some volunteering.
What kind of volunteering work?
I'm getting involved in the Denver chapter of a non-profit called America Scores, which offers soccer programs and learning services to local kids. I'm interested in non-profit work and am excited that this will be my entrance into that.
FACT In 2008-09, when Powers played for the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team, Gatorade recognized Powers as the National Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
How do you feel about playing in the same conference now as new Seattle Sounders acquisition Clint Dempsey?
They’re going to be a tough team to play. They have a lot of talent now with Dempsey. It’s going to be exciting for both the conference and the league.
FACT Growing up, Powers dominated the kiddie pool.
Favorite MLS city to play in?
Besides Denver, Seattle is unbelievable. The crowd there is impressive. We'll be in Kansas City in a couple weeks and I heard their stadium, Sporting Park, is excellent. I have a lot of family in Kansas City, too. I'll have about 100 out to watch us play for that game. I'm really looking forward to that.
How do you feel about MLS’s overall profile in the U.S. right now?
I always tell people that it's a great time for MLS in the States. The league is becoming more relevant nationally, and I'm hoping to help it grow as much as possible.
First goal you ever scored at any level?
My first goal was probably during a game of hallway soccer in my house with my parents. We used an open doorway as the goal. I think I was one year old.
FACT A young Powers practiced his victory celebration with empty netters during hallway soccer in the Powers household.
Do you play any video games?
I play FIFA, but don't have a system right now. It was embarrassing in college because I played against my roommates, who aren't soccer players, and they'd beat me sometimes. They always held that over my head.
Strangest injury you’ve ever suffered?
Before one of my youth games we were stretching in a circle. I was crawling on the ground when my teammate in front of me didn't see me, he pulled his leg back for a quad stretch and his heel cut my head open. I needed stretches and couldn't play in the game. That was tough.
A classic Reddit question: Would your rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck?
Wow. Great question. It'd probably be more fun to fight the 100 horse ducks. They'd be all over you and you could just kick them.
Any idea what you'd like to do after your soccer career?
I'd love to coach. My father was a coach and I think I'd enjoy that a lot myself. I'm not sure what level but I'd like to do that. I'd also like to get more involved in non-profits. A former teammate, Jeb Brovsky, founded an organization called Peace Pandemic, which helps youths develop through sports. That's an inspiration for me; I’d like to do something along those lines, possibly tied to soccer.
Favorite sport to watch besides soccer?
Should toilet paper roll out from bottom or the top?
Website you visit most frequently?
Would you rather have to speak in the third-person for an entire year, or be limited to speaking in only one word sentences?
Third person. That would be pretty funny.
Favorite four letter word besides "goal"?
If you could have any super power?
Would you rather spend the rest of your life in a ball pit (like you find at McDonald’s) or a kiddie pool filled with lukewarm water?Ball pit. Definitely.