BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Slowed by a bout of left knee tendonitis which limited his training reps earlier in the week, Kelyn Rowe knew he might only have a brief time to make an impact in Saturday night’s season opener.
Safe to say the second-year midfielder made the desired impact, setting up Jerry Bengtson’s game-winning goal shortly after entering the match as the Revs started 2013 in ideal fashion with a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire.
“It’s my job whether I play 90 minutes or 20 minutes to make an impact and do something for the team,” said Rowe. “I definitely feel like I made an impact. I felt good going forward.”
The Revs were under pressure for portions of the first half as the Fire pounced on turnovers, forcing New England goalkeeper Matt Reis into a trio of impressive saves before the halftime break. But Rowe’s introduction in the 53rd minute turned the tide and the Revs immediately looked more dynamic in the attack.
Rowe so nearly set up Juan Toja for the opening goal just three minutes after entering, but it wasn’t until the 62nd minute when the Revs actually made the breakthrough. Toja laid off a short pass to Rowe, who delivered a delicate chip over the top for Bengtson to nod home from close range.
“Kelyn came in and changed the game,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “He came in and showed a little bit of class in terms of receiving the ball, finding the gaps and of course setting up the goal … He can see the field, he knows where he is and we preach ‘get the ball in the box,’ because we know that Jerry likes to score goals like that.”
Getting the ball in the box is precisely what Rowe was doing when he used his first touch to float a cross to the back post. Although he may not have spotted Bengtson making the run behind the Fire’s backline, Rowe had an innate sense that the ball needed to be delivered to that area.
“I’m expecting someone to be there because it’s (following) a corner kick, we’ve got our big guys up there and you know someone’s going to be on that back post,” Rowe said. “Jerry finds a way to find space to find a goal. I put it there. It’s my job to put it there and he put it away.”