MLS Rookie of the Year Contenders Face Off in Rivalry Match

27 April 9:08 am

MLS Rookie of the Year Contenders Face Off in Rivalry Match

By Hayes Creech

In this Saturday's match, Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara will be facing another fellow Rookie of the Year contender in New England Revolution's midfielder Kelyn Rowe. Last week, Meara went up against D.C. United's impact rookie Nick DeLeon, and in consecutive matches, Meara will be looking to stop the threat of another talented youngster. Both Meara and Rowe have been immediately integrated into their respective lineups—both of whom have started every match.

After the team's training session at Red Bull Arena Thursday, Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry reiterated his belief and confidence in the team's goalkeeper.

“I think a lot of the goals we’ve conceded have nothing to do with him," Henry said "Having said that, if he wasn’t there sometimes, it would’ve been more. We wouldn’t have won some of the games, if he wasn’t there. I think he’s doing a brilliant job. It’s hard to say that because we are conceding. He can’t all the time save us and stop everything that’s coming his way."

Henry understands the frustration goalkeepers experience when conceding goals, but he is keeping a broader perspective for Meara.

"I think you have to give him credit," he said. "It’s not the best way for him starting, but I think he’s shown that he can be the goalkeeper for this team for a very long time, and that’s the most important thing. I know he must be upset when we’re going home and conceding some goals, but on a personal point-of-view for him, I don’t think he’s doing badly."

SuperDraft 2012
This past January, Meara was selected 31st overall in the SuperDraft out of Fordham University, and since his professional debut at FC Dallas Stadium on opening day, he's shown he can play at this level. UCLA product Rowe was the third overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft after playing two seasons with the Bruins.

Meara Highlights
Meara currently sits in the top five for total saves this season (25). Only Colorado's Matt Pickens (26) and Salt Lake's Nick Rimando (29) have more saves. Meara nearly completed his first clean sheet on the road in New York's 4-1 win at Crew Stadium after making crucial saves throughout the match before a late goal slipped past.

Rowe Highlights
Rookies have clearly enjoyed the big stage this season. Just as DeLeon scored his MLS debut goal against the defending champions LA Galaxy, Rowe scored a crucial goal to lead New England to a 3-1 victory at the Home Depot Center at the end of March.

Backe on Rowe
Head coach Hans Backe is aware of the threat and influence rookies are having on the league, and he's been impressed with the impact Rowe has made. According to Backe, the first batch of players in the draft always show high quality.

"He's done well," Backe said. "Both DeLeon in D.C. and Rowe has done well. They're probably the two guys that I've been most impressed with. If you can pick in between the first seven guys, you will get good guys in, then I think it drops after the seventh, eighth pick. Up to seven, eight, there are good players."

Watch Meara rob fellow rookie DeLeon in the second half at RFK Stadium last week:

Watch Rowe's debut goal in New England's road win in LA: