Every All-Star team needs a story. A guy who comes completely out of the blue, a guy who the league at large had written off, who makes a triumphant comeback to the top of the sport.
Brian Rowe was arguably the best goalkeeper in MLS in 2016, leading the Los Angeles Galaxy to a third-place finish in the Western Conference while sporting a league-leading .774 save percentage along with nine clean sheets. He wasn’t playing behind a lockdown defense, either—his 113 saves were five off the league leader, meaning he faced a high volume of shots.
But Rowe’s incredible 2016 did not translate to his next two seasons. He found himself splitting time with Clement Diop and Jon Kempin in 2017, then couldn’t lock down the starting job in Vancouver last season. Rowe started 22 games over the two seasons and saw his save percentage plummet to .587, with just two clean sheets in that span. It looked like Rowe’s time as an MLS starter could very well be over.
Rowe did not see things that way. A preseason trial with Orlando City was promising, and the Lions scooped him up a week and a half before the start of the regular season. Rowe has started all but one game for Orlando this year, returning to form with an above-average .694 save percentage. Rowe ranks in the top ten in the league in total saves and save percentage.
He’s pulled off some stunners in purple as well:
Rowe’s journey has been one for the ages—he’s a frontrunner for MLS Comeback Player of the Year, by the way—and a cherry on top would be a first All-Star appearance in front of the very Wall he has protected with grace all season long.
Most Memorable Moment
Rowe’s first major test came against NYCFC in the season opener. It’s remembered for Orlando’s dramatic two-goal second-half comeback, but that wouldn’t have happened without Rowe denying Maxi Moralez 1v1 just moments before Nani and Dom Dwyer’s introduction: