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Galaxy backup keeper Brian Rowe has another chance to start Saturday

Brian Rowe has watched 117 Galaxy games over the last 4 1/2 seasons, which would be worth bragging about if he were a fan or season-ticket holder.

But Rowe, 27, is the team's backup goalkeeper. And he watched all those games from the sidelines, leaving the bench just 16 times in his Major League Soccer career.

That all changed less than 20 minutes into this year's season opener when regular goalkeeper Dan Kennedy tore a groin muscle, opening the door for Rowe to start. And he's made the most of that rare chance, giving up a conference-low one goal in two games.

He'll be back on the field Saturday when the Galaxy meet the San Jose Earthquakes at the StubHub Center (7:30 p.m., TV: TWC, TWC Deportes).

"He's really shown his maturity and really shown that he's ready to take this opportunity," goalkeeper coach Matt Reis said. "Unfortunately as a backup goalie you have to be perfect…

"And that's game-changing saves and that's getting points when maybe you don't think your team deserves them."

Rowe has met that challenge saving 12 shots in two weeks; only one MLS keeper had more. His leaping one-handed deflection of a Shkelzen Gashi strike in the 80th minute of last week's loss to Colorado was voted the league's save of the week.

"He's done very well. And if he keeps playing like that, it will hard to take him off the field," said Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena, who was a goalie in his playing days.

For Rowe, however, nothing's changed. He said he prepared diligently for every game as a backup, never knowing when he might be needed. Now that he's gotten that call he's preparing the same way, confident he can handle it.

"I feel ready," he said. "All I can focus on is what I can put into each game each week and then each training [session]. And you hope that your product speaks for itself."

That's not always been enough though. Rowe started three of the first four games last season, giving up just three goals. But when regular Jaime Penedo was ready to play, Rowe went back to the sidelines.

When Penedo left the team in a contract dispute in midseason, Rowe started three more time, winning twice. The Galaxy rewarded him by trading for Donovan Ricketts, who took over as the starter.

Rowe said he isn't losing sleep over the possibility of being benched again when Kennedy returns.

"It's easy to get yourself down and get negative," said Rowe, who made a career-high seven starts last season, posting two shutouts and a sparkling 1.29 goals-against average. "There are a lot of things that are just out of my control. I don't dictate whether I start every week of not.

"If you're looking at it the wrong way, it's going to be a really long time. It's all about finding the little positives each day and just being ready to go.''

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Twitter: @kbaxter11

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 19, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Galaxy gives backup Rowe his shot - After Kennedy's injury, the goalkeeper has taken advantage of a chance to start." — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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