Just suppose—we ask Where Boston cover star and New England Revolution midfielder, Kelyn Rowe—you’re given the task of persuading a die-hard New England Patriots fan to transfer their season ticket over to the beautiful game. It wouldn’t be hard, logistically, given that the Pats and the Revs share Gillette Stadium, but how would you ever convince that fan to make the switch from football to soccer? “Imagine that I’m a paid golden retriever chasing a ball,” says Rowe. OK, that makes sense. Wait—what?
“Everybody loves a dog,” he continues, gamely. “You would watch a Golden Retriever fetch a ball for hours on end, no matter what—rain, shine, snow, whatever. We’re paid Golden Retrievers. Sometimes we create things out of nothing, and it’s pretty cool to watch.”
Rowe, was bred, sorry, born and raised near Seattle, Washington. He’s been awarded four international caps, has played for the Revs since 2012 and has become a local fan favorite for his skills on the pitch and his altruism off it. We asked him to chase a soccer ball around Boston’s Public Garden, and you know what: it was very cool to watch.
When did you first start playing soccer?
I had an older sister that played. I was always around it. My parents make jokes but the first time I took steps, I tripped over a ball and went from there.
Boston is totally crazy about sports—how does the town’s passion manifest itself?
You see the loyalty in the fans but also you see how much they expect from you. In 30 seconds you could be their favorite player and their most hated player. It’s because they’re loyal and they want the best out of you at all times. The successes of the Patriots, the Bruins and the Red Sox in the past 10, 20 years, it gives us a good pressure, because we want to be known in the city of Boston, we want to be known in New England. So we need to win. The other sports teams are pushing us to get better.
Do any of the Patriots follow the Revolution?
I know [Stephen] Gostkowski, the kicker, does—a few of them bring their kids to our games. I’m waiting for Tom Brady to ask me to train his kids.
How has Major League Soccer changed since your debut in 2012?
So many different ways. The game has grown and the money has grown. And when money grows, the best players will come here. When Thierry Henry came over, who was one of my favorite players, that was pretty cool to play against him.
Who were some of your other soccer heroes?
David Beckham. He was one of my favorite players of all time. Brian McBride was one of my favorite USA players. He did pretty well when he went over to England. Ryan Giggs was another one for me. Those are my top three. Zinedine Zidane would be up there as well.
If you were in charge which international player would you bring to the Revolution?
A guy like Harry Kane—a Number 9 who’s going to bang goals in, no matter what. Otherwise, you get a leader who can also score goals. From English Premier League I’d pick a guy like Jordan Henderson. He’s going to bring a lot to your team: he’ll break up plays, make good passes, work really hard—and he’ll be a great captain as well.
Tell us about your work as a pro all-star for the Jesse Rees Foundation NEGU (“Never Ever Give Up”) #kelynsNEGUcrew
We go into hospitals and we give kids JoyJars—big jar full of toys—and just try to create a better day for these kids, because they’re going through a hard time. We also bring them to a game: they get to go on the field before the game, and after the game they get to walk the field, meet my teammates. And the fans will cheer them on as they walk the field. So it’s a really cool moment for them to be kids. There’s a whole Boston and Revolution community that are supporting them. And we’d do anything to make them smile.
Where are some of the places you like to chill out in Boston?
When it comes to restaurants, the top one for me is Toro. They have great wine and Spanish tapas with a little bit of a twist. I like Barrington Coffee [Roasting Company] on Newbury Street. I like walking on the Esplanade and in the South End. I can grab myself a book, listen to music or just kind of people watch because there’s always something fun to watch in Boston.
You have a Seattle skyline tattoo—any plans to add some Boston landmarks?
I don’t know if I’ll get a Citgo sign or the South End tattoo’d on my back—we’ll see.