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Sporting KC Trade Kelyn Rowe to Real Salt Lake

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In other news, the teams play this weekend.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Sporting Kansas City Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Kelyn Rowe experiment in Kansas City can be clearly declared a failure. Just before the close of the secondary transfer window, Kelyn Rowe was traded for the second time in under a year. This time, he was dealt to Real Salt Lake in exchange for $75,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) along with an international roster spot.

Rowe had only joined Sporting KC back on December 18th in a trade that was essentially a three team deal between the New England Revolution and the Colorado Rapids. Rowe joined SKC and he came with $300,000 in allocation money ($100,000 in TAM, $200,000 in GAM). In exchange, Sporting Kansas City gave up striker Diego Rubio. A striker they could have desperately used when Erik Hurtado was out for injuries for a majority of the season.

I’m on record as being against the Rubio trade from the announcement of the deal. I had quietly held out hope that Rowe would be a success and his deal, which expires at the end of this season, could be extended and the team would get more out of Rowe than they would have gotten out of Rubio (who also would have been out of contract at the end of the year).

Diego scored eight goals and added six assists in just 781 minutes in 2018. He’s admittedly come down to earth in 2019 in a new system in Colorado. He has just six goals and two assists in 1,336 minutes so far in 2019. Those six goals would make him fourth on the team behind Felipe Gutierrez, Krisztian Nemeth and Johnny Russell, though to be fair, he’d likely have gotten less minutes in KC.

Rowe on the other hand played 690 minutes for SKC in 2019. Most of those were out of position on the wing and he added just two assists and no goals. He did however score three times for the Swope Park Rangers.

It’s unknowable if Diego Rubio would have been successful in KC in 2019 but it’s not hard to imagine that since he knew the system and had prior success in it, he could have easily eclipsed Rowe’s numbers. Obviously, he plays a different spot and those positions require different things. All that said, I wish Rowe the best in Salt Lake (even if I can’t ever cheer for SKC’s rival).

Why Did Sporting Make This Trade?

It really goes back to their signing from last week of left back Luis Martins. His deal required that the club find an international roster spot for him. Many fans dreamed of the team trading or releasing Andreu Fontas and his huge $1 million plus contract. That was never likely to happen.

It always seemed like the team would either cut Nicolas Hasler (who already got cut once in 2019 for the same reason) or trade for an international spot. They went with the latter and netted $75,000 in TAM for their troubles. All for a midfielder who was unlikely to see the field for the rest of the season. It still doesn’t excuse the initial trade to get Rowe, but at least Peter Vermes was able to flip Rowe for money and a roster spot the team needed.

Oddly, RSL play Sporting KC this weekend at Children’s Mercy Park. Rowe never got a lot of chances to break through for SKC and he may be looking to come off the bench and show the team what they missed in him this year.

As for the extra value of the international roster spot. They become much cheaper late in the season since it’s just through the end of the year. Just the other day, Minnesota United acquired one for just $50,000 in GAM from D.C. United.

One other note is about the salary structure. SKC retained a portion of Rowe’s pay for the rest of the year.

“Sporting will retain $171,856 of Rowe’s 2019 budget charge. Real Salt Lake will be responsible for the remaining $100,000 of his budget charge this season.”