New England Soccer Today

The 10 Shirt a Good Fit for Rowe

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

There’s no shortage of optimism in MLS during the winter months, so it’s not surprising for coaches and players alike to envision best-case scenarios once the matches start to mean something.

In Revolution camp, one player who’s already thinking big is none other than veteran midfielder Kelyn Rowe, who’s seen many of his early-winter minutes at the no. 10 spot with Juan Agudelo attending to National Team duties.

“That number 10 role has a little bit more freedom to go kind of create the game, find the game as much as you can,” Rowe told the media after Friday’s preseason win over the Red Bulls. “When you’ve got guys like Kei [Kamara] and Lee [Nguyen] up top, which I had today, it was easy to find.”

Rowe was among a trio of Revolution starters who stretched their minutes beyond the halftime whistle. Perhaps it was no coincidence that all three were central midfielders, a group that Revolution coach Jay Heaps has never been shy to mix-and-match no matter what time of year it is.

“We wanted to give it a little different look today, pushing Lee [Nugyen] a little bit higher, pushing Kelyn [Rowe] into that role,” Heaps told the media after the match. “We started Kelyn there, and I think he brings a little bit more of a vertical presence in there and he becomes almost a third striker because he’s looking to run behind.”

It’s a role that’s allowed Rowe to catch fire at different junctures during his six seasons in New England. While injuries pressed the former first round pick into a couple of tough assignments as a no. 8 as well as right back, Heaps seems intent to give Rowe more opportunities closer to goal.

“He’s not just a playmaking number 10, he’s definitely a penetrator,” Heaps said. “That’s really good when you’re playing against certain teams and can really offset a defense.”

The key phrase, of course, is “certain teams,” meaning Rowe won’t be called upon to play as a central attacking midfielder every Saturday. Indeed, Heaps has no fewer than three other players who could fill that spot in the XI, including the aforementioned Nguyen, Agudelo, and Diego Fagundez.

Nevertheless, when Rowe does get the opportunity, he’s confident he’ll be able to put a few balls into the back of the net with Kamara and Nguyen likely to get plenty of attention from opposing defenses.

“Those guys are going to find the ball and if you can find runs off them, you’re going to find it a bunch, because they’re going to create crowds,” Rowe said. “Kei’s going to bring two defenders, Lee’s going to bring two defenders, and if I can find that gap, it could make it an easy goal.”

One Comment

  1. Rick Sewall

    February 4, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    I was a little surprised to see Kelyn awarded the Rev MVP for 2016. He seems to me a player looking for a position- he is not a great defender, he makes plenty of mistakes in the midfield, and up front his shooting ability is sub par at best.

    I don’t question his work ethic or his attitude in any way, but I do feel that the coaching staff has let him down- they don’t seem to be able to harness his talents- love of the game, determination, and a very feisty attitude.

    Basic defensive, midfield, and goal scoring techniques, in my opinion, have not been taught adequately to Kelyn by this staff. I do hope his past inadequacies can be corrected, and it is a shame if any player with his positive attitude and ability has not made much progress over the last four years or so.

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