Midfield ace Powers is back in business

MLS Rookie of the Year returns after overcoming lengthy concussion-related issues

After a long wait, Dillon Powers has been medically cleared from his concussion to resume full training. The midfielder missed the final month of the 2013 season due to a concussion suffered in the October 5 match against Seattle Sounders FC, and after spending the offseason recovering, the final medical hurdle was overcome in Tucson.

Per league protocol, the last test after being otherwise cleared by a neurologist is to head the ball from various distances with no concussion symptoms both at that time and for the following 24 hours. After doing headers on Wednesday and waking up on Thursday with no issues, Powers was clear to resume full participation.

"It's a huge burden off my shoulders," said Powers. "It's been so long, it's just nice to have that medical clearance and now I can put that behind me and worry about really getting into good shape and competing."

While the 2013 Rookie of the Year is back training fully, he still has fitness and sharpness to recover. He has been limited recently due to tendonitis in his knees, and will need to get closer to full strength before being able to play in matches. However, he is thrilled just to be working toward getting back into action at the MLS level.

"It's awesome," said Powers on Thursday, after a hard day of practice. "It's great to be back on the field, and having to think. That's my favorite part of it, getting the mind back. It's what I do, so that's really fun."

Pablo Mastroeni was also pleased to see Powers back in the thick of the action, having endured a long layoff himself due to a concussion, during the 2012 season.

"For Dillon, having done the concussion protocol and woken up this morning without having any headaches, it's like the clouds have cleared and blue skies are ahead," said Mastroeni. "For him as a person, that's the most important thing, and that leads to confidence as a player.

"Today it was great to have him around the guys, participating like he did last year. We're excited to get him back and working toward another great year."

Thursday's practice included a small-sided 5-v-5 tournament, and Powers participated with no restrictions and no issues, either with his head or his knees. For the Rapids, that development was a great boost as the team is less than one month from the season opener.