Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rowdies defender gets the call to represent Jamaica

ST. PETERSBURG — Damion Lowe has loved his first season with the Rowdies but has some other soccer-related business that might pull him away for a bit.

Related News/Archive

Family business, too.

Lowe was called up Monday to the Jamaican national team, set to suit up for them in the Caribbean Cup semifinal against French Guiana in Martinique on Thursday. And with the Gold Cup, an event Jamaica is also a part of, set for July the Rowdies might have to get used to being without one of their top defenders.

"I'm always happy when I get the chance to represent my home country on the international stage," said Lowe, who earned his first cap (national appearance) with Jamaica last October.

He has several dozen more to go to catch his chief competitor, who happens to also be his dad.

Onandi Lowe appeared in 65 games for Jamaica, scoring 27 goals between 1995 and 2004.

"I want to surpass his achievements. That's kind of my goal," Damion said. "He lives in New York, calls me every day, and we always go at it. 'I played this amount of games' like that."

Having a father who played at the highest level, including a pair of games in the 1998 World Cup when Damion was 5, tended to lead him into the sport of soccer.

Living 10 minutes away from the national soccer stadium in Kingston aided the life path as well.

"Soccer was always going to win," he said. "Cricket is big in Jamaica, we have really good cricketeers. I did track and field. But soccer was just the thing for me. It chose me."

Plenty happened between that and Lowe, 24, choosing the Rowdies.

Lowe's father moved to Brooklyn in 2011 as Damion ended up going to Hartford University, three hours away, for his college ball. The large Jamaican culture in Hartford, where Lowe's aunt lived, made it "kind of an easy decision," but then came the first practice.

And a bad meeting between foot and the unfamiliar, artificial turf.

"I broke my fifth metatarsal. I wanted to go home. Basically I had to tough up. Dad gave me my space, made me grow and learn, to manage myself — dad's not always going to be there to help," Lowe said.

After missing the first 12 games Lowe ended up suiting up for nine as a freshman. Hartford sprung an upset of second-seeded Boston University in the American East Conference tournament, where he made the all-tourney team.

Despite playing defense, he was third on the Hawks in scoring his sophomore season, and was ready for the MLS draft after his junior year.

Lowe was taken No. 8 overall by Seattle but suited up just 180 minutes for the Sounders' Reserves in his first pro season (2014), and the following year saw him log significant time but for the Seattle Sounders 2 (USL) side. On loan to NASL Minnesota last year, Lowe made 25 starts and drew the attention of the Rowdies.

"I was unemployed for December and a little bit of January, and my agent told me Tampa was interested. I told him straightaway, 'yes,' " Lowe said. "Great organization, opportunity, and I know they're pushing to go to the MLS. Maybe I could help. I'm happy with the decision I made and it's been going well so far."

Only fellow defender Neill Collins and midfielder Marcel Schafer have played more minutes this season, though that might change if Lowe takes part in the Gold Cup.

Before that, Jamaica, win or lose, has either a championship or third place match in the Caribbean Cup June 25. And as part of the 40-man player pool for the Gold Cup roster, Lowe could find soon that he's made the final cut (23 players) for the major event that stretches through the middle of July.

Though it doesn't help their cause, the Rowdies are happy for Lowe.

"We're absolutely delighted for Damion to be called up by his national team once again," Tampa Bay coach Stuart Campbell said. "He's been absolutely tremendous for us all year. Damion is a great young player with a big future ahead of him."

Especially exciting for Lowe, if he's selected for the Gold Cup, would be a first chance to square off with Mexico in a Group C match July 13 in Denver. The other group-stage matchups for Jamaica are against Curacao in San Diego (July 9) and El Salvador in San Antonio (July 16). The USA national side plays at Raymond James Stadium as part of the event July 12.

"It means a lot to me," Lowe said. "It's another milestone. I'm really following in my dad's footsteps."

Rowdies defender gets the call to represent Jamaica 06/22/17 [Last modified: Thursday, June 22, 2017 2:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  2. Rays journal: Blake Snell continues roll in win over Cubs (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was still a game in the fifth inning when LHP Blake Snell walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single. One swing by the Cubs' Ian Happ (22 home runs) could put a dent in the Rays' three-run lead.

    Blake Snell allows just two hits in pitching seven scoreless innings.
  3. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    One success story of this lost season is the emergence of LHP Blake Snell as the frontline starter the Rays projected. After a rough start and two demotions, he has been rolling, Wednesday's solid seven innings making him 4-0, 2.57 in his past eight starts.

  5. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    This is a 2017 photo of Matt Andriese of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)