Entering his first full season with Orlando City after being acquired in August of 2017 from the Colorado Rapids, Dillon Powers no doubt had high hopes for earning playing time in 2018. The Lions were coming off a poor season and Powers had trouble unseating anyone for playing time in the second half of last year, but a full preseason under Jason Kreis had to seem like a good opportunity for Powers to prove himself and earn more minutes in 2018.
Whatever happened, it was the opposite of that.
Powers found himself on a team with a glut of holding midfielders in 2018 and despite a plethora of injuries to starters and even backups, the man with the glorious headband just never got many opportunities to make his mark this season.
The 27-year-old from Plano, TX, appeared in by far the fewest games in his six-year Major League Soccer career, playing in only three league matches all season (no starts). His previous low was the 21 appearances last season combined between Colorado and Orlando. Powers fell completely off the table in 2018, playing only 69 total minutes in league play without registering a goal, an assist, or even a shot attempt. His longest appearance was 34 minutes in a July 14 win over Toronto FC, followed by 33 more minutes in the gut-punch loss at D.C. United on Aug. 12. His only other playing time consisted of two minutes at Toronto on May 18.
Powers passed at an 81% rate, created one scoring chance, and registering one tackle, one blocked shot, one foul drawn, and one foul committed. He received no yellow or red cards.
However, Powers did see some extended action in the U.S. Open Cup, appearing in two of Orlando City’s three USOC matches for a total of 135 minutes, going the distance in the opener against Miami United FC and scoring his first — and, so far, only — goal as a Lion. He also played in half the 1-0 loss at Philadelphia in the quarterfinals.
Without much to choose from, the 3-0 U.S. Open Cup victory over Miami United FC was easily Powers’ best game of the season and best as a Lion to date. He had two shot attempts, one on goal, committed three fouls and drew three as well. His strike in the 53rd minute made it 2-0 at the time, as he cut into the top of the area, took a perfect cross from Sacha Kljestan, and smashed it into the top of the net.
2018 Final Grade
Without much time on the field for Powers in 2018, The Mane Land staff can only give Powers a grade of incomplete for the season. His two U.S. Open Cup appearances provided him with twice as many minutes as his three MLS games played this season and it’s simply too small a sample size to judge Powers’ performance for the year. It all comes down to how coaches deploy a player, but a guy who scored 10 goals in his first two MLS seasons should not have only four goals over his next four. Of course, it’s easier to register goals and assists if you can get playing time and Powers just wasn’t able to separate himself from the pack in 2018 in the minds of the various coaching staffs.
If Transfermarkt is accurate, Powers’ contract expires at the end of 2018. It is unlikely that Powers would return to Orlando for 2019 given that he struggled to get minutes in 2017 for a historically bad Lions team and he makes $180,000 per year. He could conceivably take a pay cut and return as a depth player but it didn’t seem that James O’Connor and his staff rated Powers based on his lack of minutes even while the coaching staff was trying to ascertain who might be useful to have back in 2019. The Lions have a lot of holding midfielders and are currently spending a lot of money on them, so Powers wouldn’t seem to have a bright future in Orlando and we may have seen the last of that outstanding purple headband.