From the moment that the Colorado Rapids picked Deshorn Brown (No. 6 overall) and Dillon Powers (No. 11) just five spots apart, the two rookies have been inextricably linked. Both would eventually become opening day starters and go on to enjoy fabulous freshman campaigns. By the end of the season, they had combined for 15 goals and 10 assists.
It would be a shame to try to to separate them now, which is why SB Nation has named them our Rookie(s) of the Year. The two Rapids youngsters each received 11 votes from our bloggers, significantly better than third-place finisher DeAndre Yedlin (four votes).
It's not hard to see what our voters liked so much about them.
Powers showed the kind of polish rarely seen out of players fresh out of college. From the very beginning, Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja put him in the middle of the attack, filling the role of central attacking midfielder in the 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 hybrid. By the third game, he was steady enough to be playing all 90 minutes. In fact, it was Powers' absence due to a concussion at the end of the season that was a major reason the Rapids slumped to a 1-3-0 finish that included a 2-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders in the Knockout Round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Similarly, Brown was given another key role in the formation, that of center forward. At times, he was on an island, but he never looked like he was drowning. Despite some predictable rookie slumps, Brown never went more than four games without a goal or an assist and finished the year with 10 goals and four assists.
Interestingly, the early knocks on both Brown and Powers were coming from opposite ends of the spectrum. The doubters weren't entirely convinced that Powers had much more upside after spending four years at Notre Dame in which he scored 10 goals and had 22 assists in 78 appearances. Instead, he's made such an impression with his leadership and composure have made him a possible call-up to the United States national team for the January training camp.
Brown, meanwhile, was expected to be a bit of a project, after playing just one season at Central Florida where he scored 13 goals in 16 appearances. Now, he's a rising star for Jamaica, having earned a pair of call-ups in the last couple months.
All of this speaks well for the Rapids' future. Maybe we should have just called this award "Team Most Likely to Succeed."
About the voting: All SB Nation soccer bloggers were allowed one vote for each of our awards. Players that didn't receive at least two were not counted.