CARSON -- Brian Rowe wasn't expecting Chivas USA to select him in last month's supplemental draft, but the goalkeeper from UCLA's excitement upon seeing his name could be felt all the way from Finland. Rowe was on a post-MLS Player Combine trial with first-division club VPS Vaasa when his Major League Soccer rights fell to the Goats.
“It was nerve-racking, just watching on my computer, and every five seconds a pick was coming up,” he said. “So I was just watching, and my heart was beating. I was very happy to land on Chivas. I had no idea they were interested in me, that they had an opening, but as I started to think about and talking with coaches, I'm very glad with this.”
Rowe was a second-team All-American after posting a dozen shutouts in UCLA's final-four run last fall, but he's in no way assured of a roster spot. Two keepers have contracts -- starter Dan Kennedy and newcomer Tim Melia -- and Rowe is among three on trial in the Goats' preseason camp, along with academy goalkeeper Jake McGuire.
“It's a friendly competition,” Rowe reports. “We're not at each other's throats trying to make each other look bad. We're trying to push each other, support each other, trying to help each other out, tweak things here and there, trying to make each other better.”
He's loved the approach, especially from goalkeeper coach Daniel Gonzalez.
“Especially coming from Finland,” Rowe said. “The coaches over there, especially the goalkeeper coach, was sort of an old, crotchety guy, just a very different mentality, very different training style. Everything's just high-intensity, blasting the ball at you as hard as he can, and you just got to deal with it. It's tough love.
“Whereas here, coming in, it was a nice sort of awakening just to meet Daniel and have that first training session, where he's like, 'Whatever you want to do, let me know. We'll tailor it to you.' He was just the most welcoming, heartwarming guy.”
Rowe cut his Finland stay short to join the Goats last week in Oxnard, but VPS remains an option.
“It's always good to have options,” he said. “There's pros and cons to both places. I'm just sort trying to get the most out of training I can, try to get into a little rhythm, and hopefully in the next week or two I'll hear from Chivas, hear from [Finland], and we'll go from here.”