FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England rookie midfielder Kelyn Rowe received a set of simple instructions as he prepared to enter Saturday night's match against Chicago.
He clearly took them to heart mere seconds after he stepped onto the field.
“Jay told me to come in, give some energy and make an impact,” Rowe told MLSsoccer.com after sparking his team to a 2-0 win against the Fire on Saturday night. “My first touch was almost a goal. My second touch was a goal. So it was pretty fun.”
No part of the previous week – the 3-2 loss at D.C. United last Saturday and the staggering Lamar Hunt US Open Cup ouster on penalty kicks at Harrisburg on Tuesday – fell into the category of "fun." And for long stretches on this rainy night at Gillette Stadium, it looked like this game would follow suit.
Rowe's arrival after 64 minutes changed the potentially disappointing course of the night and sent the Revs flying to a first win in three league attempts.
Highlights: Revs 2, Fire 0
The rookie midfielder probably should have scored on a 1-v-1 a minute after he replaced Fernando Cárdenas, but he atoned for that failure by collecting Benny Feilhaber's pass and jabbing home his second goal of the season after 69 minutes. He increased his instant contribution four minutes later by playing a one-two on the right edge of the penalty area to spring Feilhaber free for his first goal of the campaign.
On a night when the Revs struggled to create chances prior to his arrival, Rowe supplied a much needed spark, according to Feilhaber.
“He gave us something a little different,” Feilhaber said. “Fernando gave us a great 60 minutes. Kelyn came in with new energy and, right off the bat, he was able to get in behind. I think he made those two great runs that allowed us to get those opportunities. He probably should have scored the first one, but then he made up for it with a much tougher one on the second one and got us on the board.”
Heaps said he expected nothing less from Rowe even though he played all 120 minutes at Harrisburg on Tuesday night, slogged back to Massachusetts on a bus with his teammates after the USOC game and spent much of Thursday and Friday recovering from those exertions. In a crowded midfield picture with several potential options all vying for time, Rowe wanted to show that he merited a regular place in the starting XI, according to Heaps.
“[Kelyn's] been pushing hard lately,” Heaps said. “I think you saw when he came into the game, there was a different buzz about him. He almost scored the first time. It was a great run - go back and look. We saw it right in front of us, [and it was a] good save. Sean Johnson made a huge save. And then the first and second goals were beautiful from Kelyn. He’s smart, he’s played quickly. We like getting him in those situations where he can be a dynamic attacker for us.”