Position: Defender -Right Back
From: Danvers Pen, Saint Thomas, Jamaica (domestic player, holds
Former team: Portland Timbers
Deal: Traded to FC Cincinnati for $250K in General Allocation Money (GAM). The Timbers also retain a sell-on fee of 25%.
Saint Thomas, Jamaica native Alvas Powell joins FC Cincinnati as a 24-year-old with significant MLS and international experience. The right-sided defender has racked up 122 MLS appearances with the Portland Timbers since 2013. He also has 35 senior caps for the Reggae Boyz, including
Orange & Blue Press checked in with Jeff Bull, our writer and correspondent in Portland who is also a Cincinnati native and pens the Timbers blog Conifers and Citrus. He served up some vital details on Powell for our readers. Bull describes himself as a “full-time, modern-era Timbers fan (i.e., no NASL)” who speaks highly of Powell’s talents but also describes him as a “tricky” player. Here’s why.
Bull says that Powell “defends well because his speed contains the overwhelming majority of his mistakes. When he directs that speed toward the opposition goal, the emotions you feel will be complicated.” Here’s a look at the kind of damage Powell can do going forward.
Bull noted the highs and lows of Powell’s play. “Powell can weave his way through an entire damn defense and score a goal. Three weeks later, though, I’m slipping this parenthetical into a match report: (How many times can one man make the wrong pass to the same wrong spot?)”
Powell’s talents have been evident since he burst on to the scene in Portland in 2013. However, some Timbers fans feel he hasn’t realized his full potential in the American first division. He was perhaps suffering under the weight of the fan’s expectations after six seasons in the Rose City. Bull says “I don’t know how many Timbers fans have accepted Powell as he is at this point. What I do strongly suspect, is that Powell will drop that baggage if and when he moves to Cincinnati.”
Powell made strong bonds during his six years, but the evolution of the Western Conference champion’s defense meant the end of Powell’s time in Portland. Two weeks ago, several Oregon news outlets reported an emotional meeting between Powell, head coach Giovanni Savarese, and Timbers General Manager Gavin Wilkinson. At that meeting, the trio sat down to discuss a potential trade dealing the Jamaican away from Oregon. Wilkinson shared the following sentiments after the meet-up.
It was very upsetting, and I think everyone walked away from it just realizing how special Alvas is as a person and how much he means to the group in the locker room, and it’s probably one of the hardest meetings I’ve ever had to be a part of. [Stumptown Footy]
Powell perhaps became expendable after the arrival of left fullback Jorge Villafaña from Mexican side Santos Laguna in August. That acquisition precipitated the shift of defender Zarek Valentin to a right-back role, where he started for most of the latter part of the Timbers 2018 season.
It’s clear that Powell has the experience and skill set to be an asset to FC Cincinnati’s inaugural MLS campaign. He also appears to be a character guy that made some strong bonds with the squad in Portland. He’ll, of course, now be reunited with former Timber Fanendo Adi in Cincinnati. The question now is whether Powell can realize his full potential under Alan Koch’s guidance in the Queen City.
Another interesting aspect of this trade is what it means positionally for Mathieu Deplagne, who also plays at right back. Taylor Twellman speculated on Twitter on Christmas that the move means the Frenchman may be converted to a center back.
A big thanks to Jeff Bull for his time and insights. Look for more contributions from Jeff in the near future on Orange & Blue Press, and check out his blog at Conifers and Citrus. Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s MLS roster build.