FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Three minutes plus stoppage time; that’s all Kelyn Rowe was given to hold him over through a protracted three-month offseason.
Rowe, who missed all of September and most of October with a right knee sprain, made his long-awaited return in the 87th minute of the New England Revolution’s season finale against the Montreal Impact last weekend. The sixth-year veteran made the most of his limited time on the field, scoring a dramatic, game-winning goal with virtually the last kick of the game.
The brief cameo was like an elixir for Rowe, who built up a serious case of cabin fever while sidelined for nine weeks, by far the longest absence of his professional career.
But it was also a tease, as Rowe’s season came to an abrupt end literally moments after he returned to the field, an extended offseason looming through the fall and winter.
“It’s really hard for me,” Rowe said as Revolution players cleared out their lockers three days after the season finale. “It’s kind of like getting pulled away when I get that first little bite of candy.”
Rowe admits that he’s still shy of full health – “There are just a few movements I can’t do,” he said – but ideally he’d continue building his fitness on the field throughout a playoff run. Instead, he’ll focus on individual workouts in the coming months as he aims to be in top shape come preseason in January.
“I definitely want to get healthy first; fully healthy,” Rowe said of his offseason plans. “It’s about keeping fitness and starting to get some back, because I’m still not fully fit for a 90-minute game.
“[I’ll do] lots and lots of running, trying to get on the ball as much as I can. It’s tough to do these things on your own and not have a team atmosphere. Everyone always says, ‘There’s no fitness like actual soccer fitness.’ You can’t simulate a 90-minute game unless you play a 90-minute game.
“It’s going to be rough, but it’s about mentally getting out there and just doing the work.”