Playing for the Sounders FC has always been a dream for Kelyn Rowe but the numbers just didn’t add up — until this week.
When Rowe makes his 253rd Major League Soccer appearance it will be in a Rave Green jersey. The number matches that of his hometown Federal Way (its area code) where he led the city’s namesake high school to a Class 4A state runner-up finish in 2007.
“That’s an absolute story written in the stars right there,” Rowe said when told of the numerical alignment. “I’ve just always wanted to come and play in front of my family and friends whichever way it could be. If it was five years ago or five years down the road, I wanted it to happen. But I didn’t want to have just one year here and retire or one or two. I wanted to have a whole career in Seattle in front of my family and in front of my friends … hopefully many more.”
Rowe’s nine-year MLS career has been a journey. He’s primarily been a utility player and totaled 30 career goals and 44 assists.
The latest stop for the 29-year-old was the New England Revolution where he started 10 of his 16 matches primarily as a defensive midfielder. Rowe accumulated 68 minutes in three matches during New England’s playoff run to the Eastern Conference final. The Revs lost to the Columbus Crew SC, the postseason finish capping Rowe’s second stint with the club, also playing for the Revs from 2012 to 2018.
The Sounders used Rowe’s prominent tattoo of the Seattle skyline on his left triceps to tease the completion of the deal Thursday night. Terms of the contract were not disclosed but the addition of Rowe brings the Sounders roster to 22 players.
“You learn a few things and you kind of get brought back to reality, a little humbled,” said Rowe, who was drafted third overall by New England in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. “I had a good restart last year, especially with the quarantine period and really kind of diving into what I wanted in this game and in my life. I think this is a positive move for me going forward.”
MLS set Feb. 22 as the date to open training camp league wide and is targeting April 3 to kick off its 2021 season but hasn’t reached a new collective-bargaining agreement with the MLS Players Association. The deadline to sign a new CBA was extended Friday morning to midnight Thursday.
The league made clear in a statement that the MLS Labor Committee voted unanimously to authorize termination of the current CBA agreed to in June 2020 and institute a lockout if a deal is not reached. In that event, however, the league will pay health insurance premiums for the players and their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At issue is extending the existing deal two years, which would be after the 2026 World Cup. According to an MLSPA statement, the players made multiple financial concessions in their proposal in consideration of losses owners sustained because of the pandemic and would agree to an extension through the 2025 season.
“The players are ready to play and we’re excited to play this year as we were last year, even though we took concessions,” Rowe said. “It’s always hard. They gave us a final date in (February) 22 to start preseason, which is nice. We have something to look forward to, we have something to train for.”