In an offseason so far mostly defined by departures, the Seattle Sounders have finally made an addition and it’s a name locals will know well. Kelyn Rowe was unveiled as the Sounders first new signing of the offseason, joining the team as a free agent and ending a pursuit that was nearly a decade in the making.
“Words can’t describe how happy I am to be able to play at home and be a Sounder,” Rowe said in a message accompanying Friday’s official announcement. “It’s been a dream of mine for a very long time. I can’t wait to step on that field and play in front of you, hopefully very soon.”
Rowe grew up in Federal Way and likely would have qualified as a Sounders Homegrown Player if he’d just been a year or two younger. As it was, he played for Crossfire and missed the Sounders Academy by a year before starring at UCLA from 2010-11. The Sounders were interested in bringing him here as soon as he turned professional and have explored acquiring him in trades several times, but the cost was always considered prohibitive.
From 2012-17, Rowe averaged about 4.7 goals and 6.3 assists per season. In the three years since, he has just one goal and four assists in total and has failed to reach 1,000 minutes in either of the last two seasons while playing for three different teams.
He and the Sounders are both likely hoping that a return home will allow the 29-year-old to regain his form.
“We are excited to bring a local product and proven MLS veteran in Kelyn to the club,” Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said in a team release. “He’s been a strong player in our league for close to a decade, and I look forward to seeing how he can help us win this season.”
While playing time has been harder to come by in recent years, he has been able to showcase an increased versatility. Since breaking into the league as more of a purely attacking midfielder, Rowe has spent time as both a deeper-lying midfielder and even as a fullback.
With the Sounders, Rowe will likely get looks at several spots. With the expected departures of Joevin Jones and Jordan Morris, both wide midfield spots are basically open competitions. Rowe would be fighting for minutes with the likes of relatively unproven youngsters like Shandon Hopeau, Ethan Dobbelaere and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez. It’s also possible that Rowe could compete with Alex Roldan for the starting right back spot, although he has limited experience there.
The Sounders are also expected to soon announce the signing of Rowe’s fellow Seattle-area product and former Crossfire teammate Spencer Richey.
CURRENT SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (3): Stefan Cleveland, Stefan Frei, Trey Muse
DEFENDERS (7): Yeimar Gómez Andrade, Xavier Arreaga, Jimmy Medranda, Nouhou, Shane O’Neill, Alex Roldan, Brad Smith
MIDFIELDERS (9): Josh Atencio, Jordy Delem, Ethan Dobbelaere, Shandon Hopeau, João Paulo, Danny Leyva, Nicolás Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan, Kelyn Rowe
FORWARDS (3): Will Bruin, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Raúl Ruidíaz