Before the 2021 season, it was Seattle Sounders Kelyn Rowe signed a one-year contract on a deal worth about half of what he made the previous season. At the age of 29, this move seemed to be, at worst, one last run for Rowe with a chance to finally play in front of his family and friends. At best, well, Clean Roe will have the opportunity to make himself indispensable to Brian Schmitzer at one of the best teams in the league and maybe lift a trophy or two. About 18 months later, Rowe played some of the best football of his career, playing all but one of the matches, lifting his first professional trophy as the Sounders became the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League.
Rowe, who joined New England Revolution As hot prospects to go out University of California Back in 2012, he became an accomplished player after leaving his first professional team after the 2018 season. He spent time with Sporting Kansas City And the Real Salt Lake, playing matches for the first and second teams in both organizations, before eventually returning to New England for the 2020 season. Rowe has struggled at times over the past several seasons to find a consistent place on the field, having struggled with two injuries and slipped slightly in terms of offensive production after entering Initially in the league as a creative attacking midfielder. But in Seattle, he put it all behind him.
While Rowe is far from a perfect player, and some would argue that he’s not even in the perfect squad for the Sounders, his place as the 12th man is undisputed. Since he joined Seattle, Rowe’s best quality, perhaps his superpowers, has been his availability. In 2021 he appeared in every game the Sounders played, and in 2022 the only game he did not appear was a 2-0 loss just days after playing a key role in the home win over Pumas Onam in the AFC Champions League final when he replaced him . Nouh due to injury after only 11 minutes of the match. However, Roe doesn’t get a letter written just to share. In his 59th appearance in all competitions, he may not have necessarily pushed the team’s roof up, but he has raised the floor completely.
In the three seasons leading up to Homecoming, Rowe had average Fotmob ratings of 6.54 (2018), 6.24 (2019), and 6.43 (2020). Then in 2021, he jumped to an average rating of 6.92 in Major League Soccer while making his all-time highs, raising his performance to an average rating of 7.0 across all competitions in 2022. He managed it while playing around The field, with more than a third of his minutes coming in as a left-back or left-back. Given the quality and importance of defenders in the Sounders system, it is impressive that Rowe has made himself the primary backup for Alex Roldan at right-back, positioning himself in contention for the top spot at left-back, while also making reliable spells across all around the midline.
It’s not just that he ran out of minutes or did a good shift. In the league, Rowe leads the team with 1.8 successful tackles per 90 minutes, is in a three-way tie for the second with 1.2 successful tackles/90, and is among the top 6 in interceptions/90, vacations/90, Fotmob overall rating. He hasn’t found himself on the scoresheet much this season – his secondary passes against Vancouver were his first goal in a league game to match an assist in the Open Cup and a goal against Motagua at CCL – but his pass still consistently helps create dangerous moments and attacking opportunities. According to FBRef, Rowe in the MLS had the Sounders’ fifth most progressive passes/90, seventh most completed passes in the box 18 yards/90, and eighth most completed passes in the final third/90. Those numbers are at least twice as many as Nouhou’s, which It provides a more balanced and complementing piece for Alex Roldan on the other side of the LB’s left-back position when the Sounders are in possession.
This all means that Roe was so much more than a satisfying Seattle story. He’s ours, we’re his, and it seems like coming home has allowed him to unleash the best version of himself on the field. More than that, though, he might be the player that unlocks you the best of Seattle too.