253 is proving to be a special number for Federal Way local Kelyn Rowe.
Rowe, a midfielder, signed with the Seattle Sounders on Jan. 29 after nine seasons in Major League Soccer, eight of which were with the New England Revolution.
The 29-year-old Federal Way native is a 2010 graduate of Federal Way High School.
“We are excited to bring a local product and proven MLS veteran in Kelyn to the club,” said Sounders FC General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “He’s been a strong player in our league for close to a decade, and I look forward to seeing how he can help us win this season.”
In his career so far, Rowe had made 252 career MLS appearances, racking up 30 goals and 44 assists.
The possibility of playing in front of friends, family and in a place he grew up was a big factor in his decision, Rowe said during a Jan. 29 press conference.
“I’ve wanted to play here for a long time,” he said. “It helps that I get to come home and play for one of the best teams in the league. Not everyone can say that when they go play for their hometown club.”
Previously, Rowe was the third overall selection in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft by New England, where he played the first seven seasons of his career and ranks among the franchise’s all-time leaders in several categories, according to a Sounders announcement about Rowe’s signing. After spending the 2019 season with Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake, Rowe returned to New England last season and started 10 of his 16 appearances.
In all, Rowe has 240 career regular-season appearances (179 starts), with 29 goals and 42 assists, in addition to 12 appearances, one goal and two assists in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Off the field, Rowe has been named the Revolution’s Humanitarian of the Year in four straight seasons from 2014 to 2017 for his commitment to philanthropic causes, including fighting childhood cancer.
Jason Baumgardt, former boys soccer head coach for Federal Way High School, said Rowe’s most stand-out trait as a high school player was his ability to take over a game and score at any time. Despite missing a few games his senior year, Rowe scored 37 goals and still holds the FWHS single season scoring record.
Rowe is a great leader on and off the field, Baumgardt said, adding “it was great when he was signed by New England and it’s even more special he has signed with the Sounders.”
After graduating from FWHS, Rowe started for two seasons at UCLA where he earned Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2010 and Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2011.
He also has four caps for the U.S. Men’s National Team with three appearances after being called up for the 2017 Gold Cup, where he recorded one goal and one assist. Rowe also represented the United States at the U-23, U-20 and U-18 levels.
Rowe said he prides himself on his work ethic and looks forward to bringing his dedication to the Sounders, a team he has long admired.
“No matter what role I have, whether it be 90 minutes or nine minutes, you get a full shift out of me,” Rowe said. “That’s something I pride myself in is working very hard.”
The 2021 MLS season is set to begin April 3, and Rowe’s first game with the Sounders will be his 253rd Major League Soccer career appearance. That particular number is also the area code of his hometown, Federal Way.
“If that’s true, that’s amazing,” Rowe said during the interview upon learning of yet another local connection in his story. “That’s an absolute story just written in the stars right there. Wow.”