Young veteran Alvas Powell relies on strength of his family as he grows with Timbers

BEAVERTON, Ore. – Outside of a Portland Timbers training session, fullback Alvas Powell seldom gets the opportunity to line up against teammate Darlington Nagbe.

But last Friday, Powell got to do exactly that as the U.S. Men's National Team played host to Powell's Jamaica at Finley Stadium in chilly Chattanooga, Tenn.

“I was excited the moment I got the call to go and play for my national team against the U.S.,” said Powell after a Timbers training session on Tuesday. “We were attacking and [Darlington and I] were both excited to play against each other, so it was a pretty good moment for me.”

The two teammates had planned to meet up leading up to the match, but circumstances got in the way. Fortunately though for Powell, who started and played 90 minutes for Jamaica, his friend Nagbe was subbed into the match in the 63rd minute. That substitution afforded the pair an opportunity both to play against one another and to continue their conversations on the pitch.

“We talked the day before the game, after [the game], [and] we were talking right through,” said Powell.

Powell also got the surprising opportunity to play against former Timbers teammate Jorge Villafaña, who earned his first-ever cap for the USMNT after putting in an 86-minute shift at left back.

“I haven't seen [Jorge] in a while...[so] I was excited to see [him] too.”

While Powell's Jamaican side ultimately fell 1-0 to the U.S., the match provided an opportunity for Powell to impress interim Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore, who took over the Reggae Boyz in September of last year.

Powell, who at 22 years-old is now entering his sixth season as a professional–five of those with the Timbers–possesses a level of experience and a leadership ability that belies his age.

Part of this growth no doubt stems from Powell's own hard work and dedication, but he also credits his mother and his family for the maturity that he's shown on and off the field. Without them, Powell says, he would never be where he is today.

“My mom was my mom and dad in one,” he said. “When I was growing up she showed me a lot of respect, like I was the only child. So being the breadwinner for my family is a great, great thing.”

This past offseason, the dedicated son traveled back to Jamaica to spend time with his mother and the rest of his family and friends.

“I love my family no matter what,” added the defender. “So it's really, really important for me [to be able to give back to them].”

In Portland, too, Powell has developed his own extended family among his Jamaican teammates. He's especially taken teammate and fellow defender Rennico Clarke under his wing, helping the 21 year-old central defender transition to life in Portland as a professional.

“Seeing the guys [when I arrived] helped me to settle in and that's what I've been giving Rennico and the other guys,” Powell said. “[I tell them] keep focused and work hard...I tell them never lose focus on what you're here for.”

Powell's teammates could hardly find a better role model, as the experienced young Jamaican has held down his starting spot at right back for each of the past two seasons.

For now, though, Powell is simply itching to get back on the field in front of the Timbers faithful.

“That's what we all are waiting for – to start the season in our stadium...playing in the stadium [in front of] the fans is always great.”