The Chicago Fire’s midfield depth took a big hit on Wednesday, when center midfielders John Thorrington and Peter Lowry were selected in the league’s Expansion Draft.
The 31-year-old Thorrington was taken with the 20th and final pick of the draft by Vancouver. The feisty midfielder was a bit of a surprise selection, as injury concerns and a substantial salary figured to keep him off of the Whitecaps’ and Timbers’ wish lists.
“It’s mixed emotions,” Thorrington told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday evening. “I’m very excited for this new opportunity with what I think will be a fantastic franchise in a great city, but obviously there are some things that I’m leaving behind in Chicago that are very dear to me and will remain dear to me probably for the rest of my life. It’s mixed but that’s the nature of business and I’m excited for the new opportunity.”
Lowry, 25, was selected in the seventh round by Portland. The Santa Clara University product didn’t see much of the field while in Chicago, but was effective while on it, displaying decent technical ability and scoring five goals in just 24 league appearances. Lowry said he expects to get a shot at more playing time in Portland – something to which he’s already looking forward.
[inline_node:106971]“I’m very excited,” Lowry told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday afternoon. “I think it was time for a new challenge. I’ve had a great three years in Chicago, but you know I was happy to hear Portland had picked me.
“It’s been tough in terms of playing time,” he continued. “I hope that the thought is that I’ll come in and be able to help them out right off the bat. That’s certainly what’s going through my mind.”
Though both Thorrington and Lowry spoke with their new clubs prior to the interview, neither knew whether or not the expansion sides – which did quite a bit of wheeling and dealing on Wednesday – intend to keep them.
Regardless of that uncertainty, both players said that they’re thrilled to have the chance to bring a new team into the league.
“I think if I could pick anywhere to do it, I would’ve picked Vancouver,” Thorrington said when asked how he felt about being part of an expansion franchise. “I’ve just heard great things about the city, how passionate the fans are, how great the organization is and how well the management runs the organization and so I’m very excited. I think it’ll be a huge success.”
Offered Lowry, “It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but I’m excited. I talked to one of their players at MLS Cup this last weekend and they’re excited. It sounds like they have a great fan base, great stadium and a great coach. It seems like they have a winning recipe so I’m really excited to get out there.”
Both players ended their interview by thanking the Fire organization, their teammates and – of course – the Chicago fans.
“I certainly want to take this opportunity to publicly thank the whole Fire organization, top to bottom,” said Thorrington, a six-year Fire vet. “I definitely want to thank the fans. They’ve supported me through thick and thin. I think that Chicago has fantastic support and no thank you would be complete without me mentioning Section 8. I just think those fans were absolutely fantastic, they’ve been fantastic to the team and I think I developed a special rapport with them that I won’t soon forget.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.
Ready to Launch: MLS Matchday 2010, The official MLS iPhone app. It's FREE! Download it here!