Free agency is a game that MLS has only really dabbled in, but we’re seeing its effects today as Kelyn Rowe is set for a move to New England Revolution, according to a report from The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal.
Sources: Free agent Kelyn Rowe is returning to New England. The 28-year-old spent the first seven years of his career with the Revs before being traded to SKC and then to RSL in 2019. Coming off a slow year, but think he'll fit nicely for Arena, particularly with Agudelo gone.— Sam Stejskal (@samstejskal) December 4, 2019
What does the move mean for Real Salt Lake? That’s a difficult question to answer, given how little Rowe played for the club. He was a late-season signing, for which we expended very little. He was never intended to be more than a momentary backup, but there was a sense that he could stick around in the future.
But a return to New England for Rowe, where he played seven years of his career, does make a fair bit of sense. He’s a valuable player who won’t break the bank, and he has proven he can do a job.
Interestingly — and oddly — a report from ESPN today indicated that RSL was shopping Rowe for $300,000 in allocation money. While that’s certainly possible, I’m inclined to think that the report there was patently false. No team in their right mind would part with allocation money when they could sign Rowe as a free agent, unless there were some salary mechanisms at play. MLS is weird enough that could be the case, but for Rowe, moving as a free agent — supposing he wasn’t going to stick around Salt Lake — was the only real path forward.
As a result, there’s not much real roster impact here. Rowe never got a chance to truly fight for a spot, and that’s how it’ll end.