Less than two years ago, Kelyn Rowe was dominating South Puget Sound League opponents on the soccer field.
On Thursday, the 2010 Federal Way High graduate was the third overall selection in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft, taken by the New England Revolution.
“I’d like to say I expected it,” Rowe said in a telephone interview. “It’s all been a blur. The past two years have been good.”
Jason Baumgardt, Rowe’s coach at Federal Way, wasn’t surprised to see Rowe go from prep to pro so quickly.
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“Not at all,” he said, “Kelyn’s a special player.”
The expansion Montreal Impact selected Duke forward Andrew Wenger with the first overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft. Akron forward Darren Mattocks was selected second by the Vancouver Whitecaps.
After Rowe was taken, UC Santa Barbara’s Luis Silva went to Toronto FC with the fourth pick and Maryland forward Casey Townsend to Chivas USA with the fifth pick.
Rowe should give the Revolution, which tied for the fewest points in the league last season, an offensive boost. That’s what New England coach Jay Heaps is expecting from his new midfielder.
“We went into this wanting to get the best possible player in the draft,” Heaps told ESPN. “We really felt we added a critical (piece) to the team.”
Rowe, who played two seasons at UCLA, said he wasn’t very familiar with the Revolution or Boston, but was looking forward to the adventure.
“It’s a new fresh start,” he said.
Rowe will report to the Revolution after Jan. 25, when training ends for the U.S. under-23 national team. Rowe, who played club soccer for Crossfire Premier, is vying for a spot on the team that will represent America at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Baumgardt predicted he’ll make the squad.
“I believe that he will be picked up,” Baumgardt said. “I think we’ll see him in the Olympics.”
Rowe was The News Tribune’s All-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year in 2010. After high school, Rowe was the freshman of the year in the Pacific-10 Conference for. He was also the Pacific-12 Conference player of the year this season for the Bruins. He helped UCLA reach the semifinals of the NCAA College Cup – the Final Four of men’s soccer.
New England’s selection of Rowe earned the Revolution at least one new fan. Baumgardt received a text from Rowe on Thursday morning, telling his former coach he had been drafted and Baumgardt shared the news with his 10-year-old son Zane.
Zane Baumgardt quickly sifted through his clothes and proudly slipped on a Revolution T-shirt given to him by family members from the Northeast.
“Kelyn’s pretty much his idol,” Baumgardt said.
Wenger, the Hermann Trophy winner as the top NCAA player, was the ACC defensive player of the year last season and offensive player of the year this season, finishing with 17 goals and eight assists.
The Impact was expected to choose between Wenger and Mattocks. Club officials wavered between the two until a couple of days ago, ultimately going with Wenger’s versatility over Mattocks’ scoring punch.
Mattocks is a speedy Jamaican who wound up at powerhouse Akron because he wanted to acclimate himself to playing in colder weather.
Mattocks, a Hermann Trophy semifinalist and Mid-American Conference player of the year, scored 39 goals in 47 games in his two years with the Zips.
Vancouver president Bob Lenarduzzi said his decision was easy once Montreal made its pick.
“It’s been the consensus that the top two were Wenger and Mattocks,” Lenar-duzzi said. “We just needed Montreal to make up their minds.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.