I've learnt a lot at Portland - Powell
Inspired Reggae Boy focuses on improvements after record deal
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
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 like those in Portland. You have seen them on TV and so on, but I have never played in front of fans with so much passion.
"This season was very good, I'm happy with my performances. I worked hard and learned a lot in Portland, even when it comes to playing my position as a right back, and I think that has helped a lot in the way I have performed for Jamaica as well," Powell said, then noted his pride in representing his country.
"It's a great honour, and I am really proud to represent my country. Many players don't get this sort of opportunity, and I am just thankful that I have been able to develop the way I have. I won't say that I am at the top, but I have certainly done well," Powell said. "I am young, and I think I will offer a lot for many years to come to the national programme."
Powell has also represented Jamaica and the 2011 FIFA Under-17 World Cup and at Under-20 level as well. Now, the St Thomas native is already looking further.
"I see myself in Manchester United's staring eleven in the future, but I am more than happy to continue learning as much as I can and contributing as much as I can with the Timbers in the MLS. It's already been a great experience and I am determined to continue working hard to achieve my goals," Powell shared.