If a team is looking for a ready-to-go midfielder who is capable of playing from box to box they really do not need to look much further than Dillon Powers. The Notre Dame senior has been a key component and two year team captain at one of the top programs in NCAA soccer setting him up to make a smooth transition to the professional ranks.
As a senior, Powers does not come with the questions of whether or not he will end up being signed to a Generation Adidas contract and it is a safe bet that his name will be called at some point in the first round of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft come January. The only real question is just how high up the board he will wind up going.
Powers does not come into the draft with quite as much upside as a player like Mikey Lopez might but there is no doubt that he has the kind of polish to his game that would make him ready to contribute right away in 2013. For a team that is looking to take the next step or is in need of immediate help in the middle of the park that should make him an appealing prospect. The fact that he has also been able to earn academic awards (NSCAA Scholar All-American in 2011) along with the awards for his on field performance speaks volumes to his intelligence which will help him succeed as a professional.
The fact that he can play anywhere in the middle of the park should also be attractive to MLS clubs. A holding midfielder by trade he has shown the ability to join in the attack when the opportunity arises creating chances for his teammates and even chipping in the odd goal himself for the Irish. In his senior year, Powers recorded career highs in both goals (5) and assists (9) while playing nearly every minute of the season. He started every single one of his school's matches this year all the way up to their third round overtime defeat against Indiana and only missed 33 minutes of action along the way.
Having logged over 2000 minutes for one of the top teams in the nation Powers was able to build on what was already an impressive resume. In his first three seasons in South Bend, Powers collected 5 goals and 13 assists while making 56 appearances. He finishes his career at the school with a total of 78 appearances for the Irish making him among the leaders in appearances in the school's history despite missing time in his first three years through injuries.
Powers has attracted a lot of attention ever since he was named the 2008-2009 Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year. That attention only grew as he turned in solid season after solid season for Notre Dame and was able to impress with the US National program. He was included in the US roster for the 2009 U20 World Cup in Egypt and he followed that up by being named the MVP of the Milk Cup with the US under 20 team in 2010.
For the last two years Powers has been talked about as a possible Generation Adidas target but he elected to stay at Notre Dame to finish his education and play out his NCAA eligibility. It is a move that might just pay off for him in January as his draft stock should be at an all-time high after his best season yet.
Powers will be 22 before he ever plays his first professional game and even if that means the majority of his development years are behind him it will work in his favour in allowing him to make an impact right away. His game has progressively improved with each season he has spent at ND and now he will be one of the most complete midfielders available in the draft. His stock was also helped by the fact that he was able to complete the entire season without being slowed down by the injuries that had cost him time in his first three seasons.
A lot of teams will be looking for help in the central midfield this season and a player who can provide depth and quality minutes will be high on a lot of lists. Powers is just that kind of player as he has the physical attributes (5-11, 172 pounds), pace, and passing ability to hold his own in the middle of the park. He has the speed to keep up with most midfielders he would come up against in MLS and is strong enough in the tackle to provide solid defensive coverage. What impresses me more about Powers though is what he does once his team gets the ball back. He has the vision and passing ability to turn things around and launch the attack. He is also capable of dribbling the ball out of danger himself when the situation calls for it.
He comes out of the same program that brought Toronto FC the recently traded Aaron Maund but the major difference is that he is actually capable of playing as a holding midfielder and doing well in the position. Powers showed a fair bit of attacking promise this year and was key in setting up a lot of goals for the Irish but he should still wind up settling into a deeper role at the next level. From there he can still be pushed forward when needed to support the attack but there is no reason to suggest he would be better suited to a more attacking role.
The fact that Maund was not exactly an impressive success at Toronto should not turn fans off of talent coming out of the Irish program. Under Bobby Clark they have become one of the top programs in the nation turning them into fixtures at the NCAA tournament, winning three Big East regular season titles, and two Big East tournament title. His time at Notre Dame has also seen the school produce 21 players who were selected in the MLS draft including 14 in the last 5 drafts. The list of alumni includes Jeb Brovsky, Bright Dike, Justin Morrow, Michael Thomas, and Matt Besler. It is a list that is constantly growing as the program continues to improve and attract top prospects.
In the 2013 SuperDraft, Powers have a real chance to be the highest ever selection from Notre Dame. That mark currently belongs to Matt Besler who was selected 8th overall in 2009 by the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City). Top Drawer Soccer has Powers going fifth overall in their mock draft but he could well move up depending on who is included in this years Generation Adidas class.
For Powers, the NCAA season will certainly not have ended the way that he would have been hoping. They went into NCAA tournament play on the back of winning the Big East Conference tournament and being named the #1 overall seed but it all came to a halt against Indiana in the third round which will have been disappointing for the pre-tournament favorites. Powers will want to get that bad taste out of his mouth and hit the ground running wherever he winds up this winter.
The following video gives you a decent sense of the kind of player and team mate that powers is. He clearly has the desire to win and that should serve him well at the next level.
He already has a clear connection to TFC in that one of his former coaches is on the staff. Powers was coached by Thomas Rongen when both were part of the U20 program back in 2009-2010 and it would not be surprising if Rongen still rates the midfielder quite highly as he was impressive during his time on the team. With that in mind, and Toronto's lack of quality depth in the middle of the park it would come as little surprise if they have Powers near the top of their own draft boards.
Would taking Powers at the number one spot be a bit of a reach for Toronto? I think it probably would be but he will almost certainly be one of the top five players on the board in Indianapolis. Toronto has bigger needs than a central mid and there are a select few more talented players likely to be in the draft so even if he is on TFC's radar I doubt he will be called out first overall.