After Open Cup star turn, New England Revolution's Kelyn Rowe eyes return to starting XI
BOSTON – Each of the past three league matches left Kelyn Rowe with something to prove.
His need to impress stems from his desire to return to the starting XI. The second-year midfielder dropped out of the side after missing the 2-0 victory at Houston on May 18 with right calf tightness. He has yet to work his way back into the first XI.
His recent performances – including a goal and two assists as a second-half substitute in the 5-0 drubbing of LA Galaxy on June 2 and a pair of two-goal displays in Lamar Hunt US Open Cup play – indicate he is doing all he can to force Revolution coach Jay Heaps to restore him to the side in time for Saturday night's match at Vancouver (10 pm ET, MLS Live).
“Every practice, every time I step on the field, every game is a statement for me to either hold a spot or get a spot,” Rowe told MLSsoccer.com after he scored twice in the 4-2 victory over New York in the fourth round of the Open Cup on Wednesday night. “Right now, it is to get a spot. Jay is obviously taking this as a real game and this game was a positive for me.”
Rowe's influential display at Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium garnered praise from Heaps and reinforced his claims for a place against the Whitecaps.
Although Rowe exerts little control over the situation, he said he plans to continue to do his part to force his way in from the start.
“I hope, as games go on, I see more time,” Rowe said. “As long as I keep playing – like I said, every practice and every game, every time I step on this field – it's about proving myself.”
Whether Rowe will manage to earn a berth in midfield against the Whitecaps remains uncertain. His return to the side after his 59-minute display in midweek could hinge on whether Heaps deems Juan Toja – who is questionable with lower back tightness – fit enough to feature, but the in-form midfielder could also warrant consideration on the right flank if Toja is able to start.
Clyde Simms will not enter Heaps' plans for this match as he is once again ruled out with a right knee sprain, while Jerry Bengtson is unlikely to play after his unexpected return from his Honduran national team commitments on Thursday.