Connect with us

Brotherly Game

Damion Lowe embracing role with a return of sorts to Philadelphia Union



Photo by Matthew Ralph

Damion Lowe may be a new face in the Philadelphia Union locker room this season, but he’s anything but an unknown around the club.

As a former Reading United standout who trained with the team and worked with head coach Jim Curtin over the summer before his senior year at the University of Hartford in 2013, the 29-year-old center back has had a pretty seamless introduction to the team. It’s also helped that his Reggae Boyz teammate Andre Blake is here.

“I pulled up a couple of pictures from the archives with me coming here to train when it was PPL Park,” Lowe said after a training session in the stadium last week. “It’s a good feeling. I’m happy to be here because of my history with the club, I was able to settle pretty quickly and I have a long history with Jim (Curtin).”

Lowe’s debut with the team came under difficult circumstances in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16. It was the kind of assignment the veteran was specifically brought in to take. On a night when the field conditions made playing a normal game impossible, Lowe was one of the brightest spot in an otherwise not so easy on the eyes scoreless draw.

“I thought you saw a great performance out of him in El Salvador where he was a an animal back there,” Curtin said last week. “Some of the tackles that were going on I got a little scared because they were I’ll just say they were Concacaf-type tackles where he knows the threshold of what you can and can’t get away with.”

While most of his teammates were experiencing Estadio Cuscatlán for the first time, Lowe had been there enough to know a little about what to expect.

“I was within familiar grounds and the hostility so there was nothing new for me, you know, and I was able to contribute positively to the team,” Lowe said. “I think that’s why the boss brought me here too was my experience in Concacaf against Central American teams.”

Lowe could be in line to start again tonight as the Union host Alianza FC for the second leg at Subaru Park (8 p.m. on FOX Soccer Plus). Curtin returned to his starting center back duo of Jack Elliott and Jakob Glesnes for Saturday’s league game against Chicago Fire.

As the third center back behind Glesnes, last year’s MLS Defender of the Year and Elliott, who wasn’t far behind his teammate in terms of performance for the stingiest back line in MLS, Lowe knew coming in that minutes wouldn’t be a guarantee. But he said he also doesn’t see it as a competition with either defender or 19-year-old homegrown Brandan Craig.

“Every week, every day I go into training, thinking, hey, I’m gonna play because I have to be ready,” Lowe said. “We’re full-time pros, we have to put you push each other.”

Last season, Lowe made 28 appearances for Inter Miami in his return to MLS from overseas. He made stops in Norway and Egypt and has also played at the USL Championship level in the U.S. with Tampa Bay Rowdies and Phoenix Rising. He was drafted in 2013 by the Seattle Sounders but never saw the field with the first team there, instead getting minutes on loan with the Sounders’ second team and with pre-MLS Minnesota United.

While he’s bounced around to different clubs and leagues, Lowe has been a consistent presence on the Jamaica national team, earning 50 national team caps. Most of those games have been in front of Blake, but the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year is expected to miss tonight’s game after leaving with a groin injury in the 33rd minute Saturday. Veteran Joe Bendik is expected to step in.

Managing an injury to a star player this early in the season will be a test for the Union in a year that is unprecedented in terms of the number of games with a month off in July coming to contest the Leagues Cup and U.S. Open Cup in addition to league play and CCL.

Though it is a lot of games and will be hectic, Lowe says the additional games also allow for more minutes to be spread around.

“Everyone has to be ready,” he said. “It’s good, especially for younger players, because when I was younger playing in MLS in Seattle, there wasn’t many games beyond just the league and U.S. Open Cup.”

Lowe has joined a decent-sized list of Reading United alums to play for the Union. John McCarthy, the former Union keeper who was the MLS Cup MVP after winning the penalty shootout to decide MLS Cup for LAFC in November, was also on that Reading United team with Lowe. Ben Sweat is another active MLS player who was on that team along with USL Championship veteran Jimmy Ockford.

Lowe said he was torn watching the MLS Cup final with his national team teammate facing his former Reading United teammate in the shootout.

What he’s not torn about is who he wants to win MLS Cup this year. That is certainly the expectation with the starting XI back from last year’s team and in the long run it might be newcomers like Lowe who ultimately put the team over the top.

“Whoever goes on the pitch we support each other, we have each other’s back and we’re ready if there’s an injury or if the coach calls us to play three in the back, four in the back or five in the back, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “We just have to be ready.”

Matthew Ralph is the managing editor of Philadelphia Soccer Now / Brotherly Game. He's covered soccer at all levels for many years in the Philadelphia region and has also written for, NPSL, PrepSoccer and other publications. He lives with his wife and two young children in Broomall, Pa., but grew up in South Jersey and is originally from Kansas.

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

Be the First to Know When Philadelphia Soccer News Happens!

Sign-up now to get all of our stories sent directly to your inbox, as soon as they're published.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.