The Revolution are the only playoff team to make the Conference Semifinals that do not have a player in Jurgen Klinsmann's 26-man roster for this month's preliminary World Cup camp. Twenty-five of the 26 call-ups are MLS players, meaning that Klinsmann just about called up the league's best American players (Clint Dempsey was not called, but is currently on loan to Fulham in England).
No Revolution player has been called to the U.S. national team since Benny Feilhaber in Jan. 2012. That begs the question: is there no New England player that deserves a look from the U.S. national team?
From a standpoint of hot streaks, the no-brainer for inclusion is Kelyn Rowe, whose 2013 season merited the fact that the Revolution drafted him with the third overall pick in the 2012 Superdraft.
Rowe was inconsistent in his rookie year but flipped a switch last May when the U.S. Open Cup started. He tallied four goals in the tournament and then proceeded to play in all 21 regular season games, plus the two playoff games, that followed. His eight assists in 2013 made him the Revolution's leader in that category (tied for sixth in the league), while his seven goals tied him for the team's second best scoring record.
That's an eye-catching improvement from his rookie season, not only because Rowe practically doubled his on-field contributions, but also because he garnered more playing time in Jay Heaps' highly competitive midfield. In fact, Rowe logged 630 more minutes this year even though he played in just three more games.
Transitioning from his college playing days with UCLA to a professional league has had its challenges. But Rowe has begun to establish himself as a reliable league player with the tools to go further.
A key asset? His shot.
Few players have a trademark goal-- the kind of strike that they're famous for converting over and over again. But Rowe does. It's his long range cannon that dips, swerves, and flies above opposing defender's cleats and heads before landing gracefully in the back of the net.
"That's something that I had a lot of in college and in high school," said Rowe in an interview with Corner Kicks last summer. "I didn't really have it last year. But I've been able to rediscover it and it's gotten better because of the great teammates I have around me."
All 26 of Klinsmann's January call-ups-- not to mention players like Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, and Fabian Johnson-- have the ability to enhance Rowe's game. While he has tremendous individual talent, Rowe is the prototypical team player.
For one, he is one of the most humble interviewees. He will thank and talk up his teammates' skills and contributions before talking about himself.
What's more, his trademark goals may be long range, but he's not running into loose balls and pummeling them into the goal. Instead, he works with his teammates that gift-wrap him the ball with a fluid and creative passing sequence.
Enter Klinsmann's arsenal. With time, Rowe could be one of its benefactors, too. Then again, maybe he should have been on the list of 26 players that was released on Friday.
To the uninitiated, some of Klinsmann's other call-ups may be surprising. The likes of DeAndre Yedlin, Chris Klute, and Shane O'Neill are all relatively young players who have a combined zero international appearances. They are talented, sure, but aren't exactly shoo-ins for the eventual 23-man roster for this summer's tournament in Brazil.
But Klinsmann highly values young players, especially those that have been vetted by U.S. youth coaches Tab Ramos and Thomas Dooley. Rowe has been involved in the U.S. system before, as part of qualifying rosters for the 2012 London Olympics and as a member of the U-18 and U-20 national teams.
Rowe's résumé is just as an impressive, if not better, than those of players from his generation that received their January calls. Maybe he'll be brought aboard after Klinsmann has a phone conversation with some more U.S. youth coaches. Or maybe Rowe will just have to do some more row, row, Roweing in 2014.
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