I’ve learnt a lot at Portland - Powell
In Primary school, he was a half-decent 100-metre sprinter. Today, Jamaica defender Alvas Powell is making strides over 3,200 miles away in the North American city of Portland, Oregon.
The ever-improving Reggae Boy is still on 'cloud nine' after securing a permanent deal with United States Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Portland Timbers over the past few days, after spending a year on loan from Portmore United.
The highly regarded Powell, who took time to thank the Timbers organisation for their faith in him - while noting the roles of his former club, Portmore United, and his agent, Damani Ralph, the former Reggae Boyz striker - said he is hoping to continue his development in the MLS and cement his place in the national senior team.
"I am extremely happy and proud to have secured this contract; this means a lot to me and means that I have been doing something positive. It's just for me to continue to work hard and improve," said Powell, who is enjoying the last few weeks of his holiday before returning to the United States.
The 20-year-old, who played 15 games last season for the Timbers, was signed for a six-figure fee after attracting interest from a number of European clubs such as Real Zaragoza and Torku Konyaspur.
record transfer pay-out
The deal is a record transfer pay-out for a Jamaican player in the MLS, surpassing the US$80,000 paid by Houston Dynamo in 2011 to secure JeVaughn Watson from Sporting Central Academy.
"When Damani (Ralph) told me about the contract, I couldn't believe it, I thought it was a joke!"
Powell, who listed former firebrand Jamaica centre half Ian 'Pepe' Goodison as his favourite defender, admitted difficulties in acclimatising to the Portland, environment, but credits his experience in the MLS for his vaunted performances for Jamaica in the just-concluded CFU Men's Caribbean Cup.
"It wasn't always easy to adjust, but I was determined to work hard. For me, the hardest thing was being away from my family and Jamaica. I missed my mother a lot," said Powell.
He added: "It was really nerve-wracking playing in front of fans