MONTREAL – Kelyn Rowe’s dramatic, last-gasp winner in Sunday evening’s season finale against the Montreal Impact came with a big-time assist from Devin Suau.
Suau, whose bravery, spirit and boundless enthusiasm captured the hearts of everyone who learned his story, lost his courageous battle with a rare form of pediatric cancer early Friday morning. He was just one week shy of his 7th birthday.
Two weeks ago Rowe had the chance to visit Suau, and the heroic youngster officially became the newest member of the New England Revolution by signing a contract with the club. After putting pen to paper, Suau was presented with his very own jersey featuring his last name and the number seven.
Suau’s number seven jersey was hanging in the Revolution locker room before Sunday’s finale at Stade Saputo, and it was on the team bench when Rowe drilled his late winner under the crossbar, just minutes after stepping onto the field for the first time since August 20.
The Revs, who wore black armbands to honor Devin, knew they were playing for their newest teammate.
“Devin was on our minds throughout the whole time we got to the stadium, and the game,” said Rowe. “[Interim head coach Tom Soehn] beforehand said, ‘Look guys, we get to live this dream that a little kid wanted to live his whole life. We get to live it for him.’
“That really impacted all of us. You could see the true fight in us throughout the whole game because of it.”
New England needed every ounce of that fight at Stade Saputo. Twice the Revs took the lead through Diego Fagundez and Krisztián Németh and twice the Impact fought back, including with a 90th-minute equalizer that looked likely to keep New England winless on the road in 2017.
But the visitors found one last thrust of energy as Rowe’s 25-yard rocket dipped majestically over Montreal goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau and under the crossbar with the last kick of the game.
Rowe, who called the game winner “the most emotional goal [he’s] ever scored in [his] career,” honored Devin with his celebration by removing and kissing his black armband, and he was overcome by the occasion as he knelt on the field following the final whistle.
In that moment, Rowe didn’t look like a player who’d missed the past two months with a sprained knee; he looked like a player playing for something more. Or, perhaps, with something more.
“There was definitely someone looking after me tonight,” Rowe said as he clutched Suau’s jersey postgame. “There’s definitely a little kid smiling in Heaven.”