SANDY, Utah—Brian Rowe couldn’t have scripted a finer MLS debut. Not even in his wildest dreams.
Starting in place of the injured Carlo Cudicini, Rowe was given the task of shutting down a high-powered Real Salt Lake side on the road while tending the net of a Galaxy team that was without several of its biggest stars. And he performed masterfully.
Rowe, 24, made seven saves in a standout performance as the Galaxy notched a 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake to seal his first career MLS shutout. Less than a year after being cut by Chivas USA , the club that drafted him in the second round of MLS Supplemental Draft, and serving time as a league pool goalkeeper, Rowe was the vision of confidence.
But like any youngster, there were a few jitters that needed to be quickly discarded.
“It had been a little while since I had been in a big game like that. It was so exciting and a lot of fun,” Rowe told reporters on Saturday. “I was glad that we were able to get two early goals to settle in a little bit, then I made that first save and it felt comfortable and natural after that.”
Those two early goals from Mike Magee and Charlie Rugg offered the Galaxy a cushion from which to operate, but after LA’s early spurts forward, RSL controlled much of the tempo. Despite making seven saves on the night, Rowe could have faced greater danger if not for LA’s resolute defense, which denied RSL several times.
As he looked to settle between the pipes, Rowe admitted that the presence of veteran defenders like Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza was vital to his success.
“It was huge. Having their experience made my job a lot easier,” said Rowe. “All the guys in front of me did a great job shutting down the players so it made it easy for me.”
Rowe was particularly commanding in the box as he developed a penchant for cutting off RSL crosses by catching two and punching away three others. For all his presence in the box, Rowe was still asked to make several key saves and he aptly delivered. But none was larger than his save off a pointblank chance from RSL forward Devon Sandoval that sealed the shutout for LA.
“The ball hit the post a few times and bounced off his thigh then was just in-between us,” said Rowe of his save on Sandoval. “I came out and he hit off me and bounced off one of their guys and went out.”
Following the match, Galaxy stand-in captain Mike Magee said he “was thought Brian Rowe was the best player on the field” and LA head coach Bruce Arena agreed.
“He was outstanding. There’s no other way to put it,” said Arena. “We obviously felt that, coming into the game, that he’s a good goalkeeper. However he had no experience in the league. You’re always concerned in the first few minutes of the game, but he looked pretty composed right from the start. He had a good save early, and had great concentration to make a bunch of saves throughout the evening. As I said, I thought he was outstanding.”
After a stellar debut, Rowe will likely look to solidify his spot as the club’s number two goalkeeper behind Cudicini as Brian Perk returns to full fitness. However, the former MLS pool ‘keeper isn’t worried about any of that; he’s simply looking to enjoy the moment.
“I’m taking it day by day,” said a beaming Rowe. “It was fun to get the first game and get a result like this so I couldn’t anything more.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com