VANCOUVER — Sometimes doing things on short notice can be fun, like when an old friend unexpectedly comes to town or someone offers you concert tickets at the last minute.
Other times short notice can be a challenge, like if you are a goalkeeper who hasn’t played a Major League Soccer game since October only to learn you are starting the next day’s match.
That’s the position Vancouver’s Brian Rowe found himself in last week when starting goalie Stefan Marinovic suffered a knee sprain in training the day before Friday’s match against the Houston Dynamo.
Rowe took over and played well in a 2-2 draw with the Dynamo. With Marinovic still hobbled, Rowe will start again when the Whitecaps (4-4-2) host the San Jose Earthquakes (2-5-2) at BC Place Stadium Wednesday.
Rowe, who joined the Whitecaps in December in a trade from the LA Galaxy, said adapting to the unexpected is part of a backup goalkeeper’s life.
"It’s tough when you haven’t played games for a while," said the 29-year-old from Eugene, Ore. "Nothing else can prepare you for a game than a game itself and getting minutes.
"It felt great going out there, it felt comfortable. It kind of felt like riding a bike. We will keep building on that."
Rowe, who couldn’t be faulted for either of the goals he gave up against Houston, doesn’t mind the short five-day break before the Whitecaps face San Jose.
"I think it’s good," he said. "You don’t have too long to think about it.
"Sometimes if you have too long to dwell on a game … you can’t get that rhythm. It’s going to be a tough one."
Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson said Rowe made a difficult situation look easy.
"The hardest job for me is the backup goalkeeper," he said. "You can go 34 games without playing a game. You need to be ready mentally as well as physically. It’s a thankless task."
Whitecaps striker Kei Kamara said the team has total confidence in Rowe.
"Brian is a veteran goalkeeper," said Kamara. "He’s played in big games.
"Brian didn’t come in nervous at all. We knew he was ready to play."
Rowe spent four years as the starting goalkeeper for the UCLA Bruins then played six years with the Galaxy where he was part of MLS Cup winning sides in 2012 and 2014.
During his time in LA he had a 23-17-21 record, a 1.21 goals-against average and 17 clean sheets in MLS competition and playoffs. He also was teammates with players like David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan.
"I’ve got to play with some of the best players that have played soccer and played on some amazing teams that have won championships and gone on good runs," he said. "I just of look at it as experience coming in here and being able to work with these players."
Prior to Friday, Rowe last appeared in a game Oct. 22, 2017. He previous start was Aug. 12, 2017.
"It’s one of those positions, sometimes you just have to wait your turn," he said. "Sometimes you just have to be patient, do the right things, and your time will come."
The Whitecaps’ 14 points leave them fifth in the Western Conference. Vancouver is 1-4-1 in the last six games and needed a goal late in injury time from captain Kendall Waston for the draw with Houston.
Vancouver has struggled to score all season, but Rowe liked the character the Whitecaps showed against the Dynamo, in a game where they twice trailed by a goal.
"I think that will be a turning point for us as the season goes on," he said. "You can’t teach those late equalizer goals, those ones you dig down for.
"Moving into the next couple of weeks, once we get a goal or two from the run of play I think the floodgates will open for us."
The Earthquakes are 10th in the West with eight points. San Jose’s 3-1 win over Minnesota last weekend snapped a seven-game winless streak (0-4-3).
Veteran forward Chris Wondolowski scored his 132nd goal for San Jose against Minnesota, breaking the MLS record for goals scored for a single club. With 136 career goals he’s also closing in on Donovan’s all-time MLs goal-scoring record of 145.