- Ben McCormick

Kelyn Rowe may have quietly sneaked onto the United States U-20 National Team last December, but he’s making a ton of noise at the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. After two matches, Rowe has three goals and has putt in two high quality shifts for Thomas Rongen’s U-20 squad.

After a successful freshman year at UCLA, Rowe received his first call up from Rongen’s and the U20s ahead of the last international friendlies before the U-20 Championship team was to be decided. A pair of matches against Canada was highlighted by the inclusion of players like TSG Hoffenheim’s promising American winger Joe Gyau. The number of professionals in the team continues to grow, and as a college player, Rowe faces an uphill battle for recognition. Rowe played the full 90 in a 5-0 drubbing of Canada highlighted by Gyau’s hat trick and two goals and two assists from Josh Gatt, a winger at Molde FK of Norway’s top division. Rowe assisted on Gatt’s second goal, which was enough to see him invited to Rongen’s training camp in early January.

Once in Fort Lauderdale, FL for the January camp, Rowe found himself out of the spotlight once again. High profile dual-national playmakers Alex Zahavi and Bayern Munich’s Fabian Huerzeler were the focus of those on the outside the camp looking in. Rongen, however, discovered another playmaker in Rowe, who hardly fits the archetypal American U-20 phenom. Rowe isn't a dual-national and isn't on the books at reputable European club (or a professional club of any kind for that matter), but Rongen clearly saw the UCLA Bruin's potetnial.

Three months to the day after the start of that January camp, Rowe is in pursuit of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship golden boot, tied for the lead with four other players. One of only four college players in the squad, Rowe emerged on March 29 against Suriname wearing the number ten, an honor taken seriously by the Dutchman Rongen. Rowe did not disappoint. After guiding the American offense with intelligent runs and crisp passing, Rowe scored a well-deserved goal in the 81st minute when he fired a low blast past the frozen Surinamese goalkeeper from just inside the 18 yard box.

In his next match against Panama on April 2nd Rowe nabbed a brace. He first scored in the 13th minute on a volley from a Greg Garza cross after a delayed run into the box. Only five minutes later, a beautifully timed run and Sebastian Lletget pass saw Rowe use the outside of his right foot to round the Panamanian goalkeeper and put the US up 2-0 only eighteen minutes into the match.

Rowe has been nothing short of spectacular for the United States thus far in the tournament. His incredible work rate, smooth passing, smart runs and clinical finishing make him one of the most entertaining players at the U-20 Championship. Rowe’s fine form will continue to play a key role in the United States’ qualification for the U-20 World Cup in Colombia.

That road can conclude successfully on Wednesday against host nation Guatemala. A win in the quarterfinals will put the US into the U-20 World Cup for the eighth straight tournament.

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