CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – It was just one game, and a preseason training game at that. But if Saturday night offered any hint of what Kelyn Rowe can bring to the New England Revolution, Revs fans are going to like what they see from the rookie.
Rowe, the third overall pick in this month’s MLS Superdraft, started and assisted on the Revolution’s first goal, a 38th-minute cross into the box that found Sainey Nyassi for the finish. Rowe shined in the second of the two 35-minute periods he played, and Kenny Mansally converted a penalty kick in the Revs’ 2-1 win over local Premier Development League club FC Tucson.
Coach Jay Heaps’ 4-4-2 starting lineup for the Revolution’s first match against another team since their Arizona camp opened earlier in the week included some familiar names. Shalrie Joseph and Benny Feilhaber opened at midfielder, A.J. Soares and Kevin Alston on the back line, Nyassi at forward and Matt Reis in goal.
Colombian newcomer John Lozano opened at center back and trialists Jeremiah White (midfielder) and Michael Roach (forward) also started.
After a scoreless first period, it didn’t take long for Rowe to send in a quality ball for trialist Rick Smith. The Jamaican forward couldn’t quite finish, but the ball found Nyassi, who had no one defending him.
Rowe had several very good services from his left midfielder spot as well as very good corner kick.
“It was definitely hard, we’re playing with a bunch of new guys, we haven’t played together that much, this is the first time the starting lineup played together," he said. "So the first 35 [minutes], we just kind of got used to each other, found spacing in between and you saw it work together in the second half. I’ve been working on my crossing and definitely it’s been something I’ve showed that I can do well here.”
Rowe said he understands there is pressure that comes along with being a high draft choice, but added: “I need the pressure and I like the pressure."
The final 45 minutes gave Heaps the chance to play an entirely different group of players, and after midfielder Ryan Kinne was upended in the box, Mansally drilled the PK in the 89th minute to give New England a 2-0 lead.
Milos Dragic scored for FC Tucson in the 101st minute, and Juan Mendez had a great chance in the final moments for the equalizer but his shot sailed just high.
Heaps said Rowe had already made a good impression in camp with his confidence and adaptability as well as his fitness. Heaps also mentioned the play of Lozano and Smith as efforts that stood out.