BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Just last season, Chicago Fire midfielder Peter Lowry played in less than one third of his team's games and logged less than 700 minutes while taking in a minuscule $20,100 salary.
Through five matches, Lowry is playing a pivotal role for the Fire midfield as a regular starter. And with key components such as Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Chris Rolfe out of the Fire's picture entering this year, that opened the door for some new blood in the team's starting midfield core.
"I didn't get many opportunities the first couple of years," Lowry said. "And so when I step on the field, I want to let everyone know that I can play. The last coach [Denis Hamlett], I didn't get many chances, and so I wanted to show in preseason and this year that I'm an impact player to help the team win. It's been a different role this year."
Lowry's opportunity also arose when the midfield was struck with some key injuries to John Thorrington and Logan Pause in the early going. Combine that with Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos going with a heavy midfield formation (4-5-1) these past two matches, and the 24-year-old is seizing the moment every time he gets the call.
Last Saturday, Lowry delivered a goal during the Fire's 2-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo. Lowry chested the ball into the net past Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad, earning an MLS Goal of the Week nomination.
"I've had to work hard for my opportunities here," Lowry said. "I know that they're few and far between sometimes, and you have to make the most of your time on the field and not take it too lightly."
The Fire midfield took the spotlight in this past match with Lowry and Baggio Husidic providing the tallies. Possession-wise, it also was one of the Fire's best performances of the young season as they earned their second straight win to improve to 2-2-1.
"The first half was probably our best half that we've put together so far this year," Lowry said. "We had the wind and [Houston] had a few injuries. Not to take anything away from us. I thought it was a very good half. That's the style that we want to play, creating a lot of chances, and hopefully finishing some of those chances and winning games. It certainly is a lot of fun to play."
De los Cobos' possession-heavy style was something that Lowry latched on to. It has taken some time for all of the pieces to fall into place with the Fire's new scheme this year, but if these last two games are any indication, Chicago has turned a corner.
With the likes of Lowry taking on an increased workload and now reaping some winning benefits of late, the team has shown improved fluidity on the ball, with a confident moxie in their step.
Lowry certainly exudes that demeanor.
"I want to have the ball. I want to try to make the play that wins the game," Lowry said. "I think if you don't want that, maybe you shouldn't be playing."