FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Coming into this season, there were hints of Kelyn Rowe being in the conversation for a US national team call-up due to his stellar run of form in 2013.
An early-season injury calmed that talk a bit, but the New England Revolution midfielder has returned to playing some of his best soccer and is major reason that the club is poised to make their second straight postseason appearance.
“It’s exactly where we knew he had to be for us to be pushing for playoffs,” said coach Jay Heaps. “Kelyn needed to be a key factor in that fight.”
Rowe suffered a right hamstring injury that sidelined him for six consecutive matches near the beginning of the season, the longest such stretch that the midfielder had endured on the sidelines since arriving on the scene in 2012.
With the injury occurring early in the season and the coaching staff working methodically to bring him back up to speed without risking further injury, Rowe learned quite a few things about himself.
“I’ve never had to come back from a serious injury before in my career,” Rowe told MLSsoccer.com. “This has been a really big learning curve for me. Having to come back, having to sit on the bench again and work my way through. It made me a better player, made me a better person as well and a better teammate.”
Rowe built himself back up to proper conditioning, alternating from the bench to the lineup before becoming a more permanent part of the starting XI at the end of the club’s eight-game losing streak.
In the nine games he has started since, Rowe has turned in three goals and assisted on four more, something that his coach feels has been aided by a shift in positioning.
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“We pushed him out a little wider and he’s got a little bit more freedom to attack,” said Heaps. “I really like Kelyn in those wide positions because he’s capable of getting [himself into] one-on-ones. He’s a goalscorer.”
That space has provided Rowe with greater shooting lanes, getting off nearly 2.5 shots on average in each of the last nine matches, and he is never afraid to pull the trigger from distance, as evidenced by his 30-yard blast last Saturday against Montreal.