Three facts for you guys to digest:
- Winning the Rookie of the Year award in MLS doesn't necessarily mean you're going to go on and have an amazing career. Sure, guys like Clint Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra have won the award, but so have guys like CJ Sapong and Damani Ralph.
- Being a homegrown player in MLS is, more often than not, nowhere near a ticket to a starting spot in Major League Soccer. There are some success stories like Bill Hamid and Diego Fagundez, but the vast majority are *insert now-released FC Dallas player here*.
- Dillon is only the 264th most popular boy's name in the United States.
Take all three of those bits of information, and what do you get? You get the fact that it should be pretty surprising that in two years, I'm predicting that the two best players on the Colorado Rapids will be a former Rookie of the Year and a homegrown guy, both named Dillon.
Early returns are a funny thing, something that usually isn't to be trusted. We've seen only bits and pieces of the long careers ahead of Dillon Powers and Dillon Serna, but it's hard to see where their ceilings are knowing what we know now. The two midfielders seem to be on the fast track to success, and their individual skills make me think that there's no way they aren't the best players on the team if you fast-forward a couple of seasons.
Powers is an incredibly rare breed of player; Matt Doyle calls him an 'old-style playmaker'. He doesn't dazzle you with flair. He's a box-to-box guy, yet also has some of the best vision you're going to see out of an attacking midfielder in MLS at the same time. He'll feather wonderful passes to you on the attack to set up easy goalscoring opportunities, and then a minute later he'll be down doing the dirty work as if he were a defensive midfielder. It's rare to find a guy who is a jack of all trades in midfield not because he's not very good at anything, but because he's great at everything. And he has already gotten noticeably better in his second season.
Serna is one of the most technically gifted players the Rapids have ever seen, despite being underage and looking even younger than that. He combines that technique with a good ol' batch of American pace, a good shot, and some good vision and smarts. Sounds like a dream come true for an attacking midfielder? He absolutely is, and he's already proven to be a game-changing spark this early in his career.
These are both guys with unique skill-sets who have the sky as the limit if they continue improving. They have both noticeably improved as their careers have gone along, with not a hint of regression. They're playing for a coach that knows how they should be used, having seen them as a player himself. They both probably have US Men's National Team work in their future, and they're set to be superstars -- like I said, Colorado's two best players by 2016.
Who else might be better than them? Clint Irwin could certainly continue to grow into a world-class goalkeeper, but there's only so good a goalkeeper can get, and even the best GK in the world is rarely the best footballer on a team. Deshorn Brown seems like he's going to remain the Jamaican embodiment of chaos for his entire career, which isn't a bad thing but also means he's probably never going to be the best player for the Rapids. Chris Klute is the only other guy I think might have a legitimate shot at it, but he has already matured so much that there might not be a whole lot more room to grow for him.
It's going to be all about the two Dillons. So look forward and smile, but not because the future is bright. Smile because the future is Dillon.