Born in 74 Sounders Legend: Kelyn Rowe reflects on playing for hometown team following retirement 

16x9 heritage match kelyn pt.2

The Seattle Sounders will honor former player Kelyn Rowe prior to Saturday night’s home match against the Vancouver Whitecaps (7:30 p.m. PT; Watch on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, 93.3 KJR FM, SiriusXM FC, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration.

The Seattle soccer community was aware of Rowe long before the midfielder joined the Sounders three years ago. 

A Federal Way native, Rowe was a promising youth soccer player, ranking fifth in Top Drawer’s 2010 class of recruits, along with getting selected as the ESPN RISE All-American during his time with local club Crossfire Premier, before moving onto a successful collegiate career at UCLA and eventually, an 11-year stint in Major League Soccer. 

While the now 32-year-old spent the majority of his professional career on the East Coast playing for the New England Revolution (2012-2018), in addition to spells at Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake, it was his hope to eventually make it back to Seattle to compete with his hometown club.

He did exactly that in 2021. 

“I had no words when that happened…I was pretty darn excited,” said Rowe. “I'd been trying to get back to Seattle during my career since I left, so it was pretty amazing I was able to do so.”

Rowe spent three seasons with the club, recording two goals, four assists and a total of 3,975 minutes on the pitch across all MLS competitions. On top of being the only Sounder to compete in all 34 regular season matches in 2021, he was also a part of a significant moment for the club the following year, when he and his teammates accomplished the unimaginable of a CCL title.

“[My first year], I came on and played every game for I don't know how long, a very long time, which is something I haven't done in my career before, and then we went on to be the first [MLS] team to win the Champions League,” said Rowe. “So, talk about a whirlwind of coming in and getting started right away.”

Despite his closing year with the Seattle side being hindered with injuries, his experience with the Sounders was a positive one, as he reflects on his time at the club with deep appreciation. 

“Pride is a word I use a lot when I talk about the Sounders,” said Rowe. “I have a lot of pride in this city and this team.”

He especially felt a sense of fulfillment when it came to the fans and the overall communal aspect of the organization.

“When I came in, it was 2021 where everything was starting to open up again. I remember the first few games there was a very, very little fan base because you could only have a certain amount of fans in [the stadium],” said Rowe. “But as it started to open up, you saw it continue to grow more and more. It helped to be on a winning streak as well, but I think a bit of Seattle pride was always around when I was on the field, or when maybe I wasn't having a good day at practice or games…I was able to have that Seattle pride to push me through.”

While his time with the Sounders has come to a close, he hopes to give back to the younger generation of players and “lead them in the right direction so they can be as successful as possible.”

“It's important for us to show [them] the struggles that we went through, but also how we overcame those,” he said.

As of now, Rowe has not transitioned to the coaching side of the sport, but says it isn’t out of the picture.

But without a hectic MLS schedule to take up his time, he’s shifted his focus toward his company Vino FC, where he’s determined to inspire others to delve into the art and culture of the wine industry and celebrate all that it has to offer.

“It's a wine subscription, two bottles a month, curated by me,” said Rowe. “So the whole aspect is I want to get people wine from all over the world, not just from the Pacific Northwest; I want to branch people's horizons a little bit and show them a variety of wines.”

His newfound dedication to Vino FC emulates how Rowe represented himself as a professional soccer player and as a Sounder.

“Commitment” was the exact word he used to describe what it meant to be a part of the organization. And he’s carried that into his passion for wine.

“It could be commitment to the player next you, a commitment to the Sounders, commitment to the city of Seattle or the state of Washington,” said Rowe. “It could be a commitment that you're going to get everything on that field for as long as you can.”

“But you can’t just commit and do it. You have to be proud of the work that you do.”

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