After a roundabout 2019 season away from the New England Revolution, midfielder Kelyn Rowe has returned to the club that originally drafted him in 2012, the team announced Wednesday. Rowe recently had his contract option with Real Salt Lake declined, making him a free agent who could sign anywhere in MLS.
Rowe split this past season with Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake. SKC acquired the 28-year-old via a trade last offseason, and then he was traded mid-year to RSL after struggling to break in. All told, he made 18 appearances in 2019 and had two assists.
That came in stark contrast to the summer of 2017, when Rowe played for the US men’s national team at the Concacaf Gold Cup under Bruce Arena, who’s now the sporting director and head coach in New England. A return to Gillette Stadium could reignite Rowe’s career, as he scored 29 goals and had 40 assists across 206 appearances with New England from 2012-2018.
“Kelyn is a talented player with valuable experience in this league,” Arena said in a team release. “We are pleased to bring him back to New England and look forward to his contributions on and off the field next season.”
Under Arena, Rowe could also find some positional stability. Former Revolution head coaches Brad Friedel and Jay Heaps sometimes deputized Rowe at left back, though he’s made no secret that he’s most comfortable in midfield or an attacking position.
“New England is a special place to me that feels like home and I’m happy for the opportunity to represent the Revolution again,” Rowe said in a team release. “I’m also very excited to work with Bruce. He had me briefly when I was at my best and wants to push me to become greater next season.”
Rowe, 28, was also rumored to be heading to the Seattle Sounders upon entering free agency, given he’s from Federal Way, Wash. But New England has secured Rowe’s services, as he returns to his MLS roots.