St. Louis City SC after season press conference

St. Louis City SC midfielder Eduard Lowen takes questions from the media during a press conference at CityPark on Nov. 8, 2023.

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It’s been almost two years since Eduard Lowen arrived from Germany to join St. Louis City SC of Major League Soccer, and the love affair between the gregarious, always smiling German who is also one of the premier passers and playmakers in the league was almost instant.

But Lowen has missed most of the club’s second season. He injured his hamstring in practice in early March, shortly before the team’s fourth MLS game, but just as he was close to returning at the start of April, he stopped training with the team, which the club said was to address a private medical matter.

Lowen revealed Thursday the nature of that issue: his wife, Ilona, was receiving treatment for brain cancer.

“She’s doing well at the moment,” he said in a session with reporters at CityPark. “Thank God. She’s doing really well. And yeah, we will see how it’s progressing.”

Lowen made the announcement as he’s about to return to action. After missing nine games, he is expected to be on the team’s roster when it faces FC Cincinnati on the road on Saturday night.

“It’s been a long road for him,” said City SC coach Bradley Carnell. “Edu is a welcome sight.”

The road to Lowen’s recovery has been one thing, but that of his wife has, and will be, far more complicated.

“She always had a tumor in her head, which we knew,” Lowen said. “But we never knew that it could grow and that something could change. But then she was having severe headaches and problems. Her surgery was April 1 or something like that. And then the coach released me and gave me the time to take care of her because I was the whole time in the hospital with her. And then she was getting better and better and thankfully for the last couple of weeks she has been doing very well.

“This is also a request honestly for my brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world to pray for my wife for health and courage.”

Lowen thanked the club for their help, from the ownership group and the technical staff to his teammates and the training staff. He also thanked the club’s fan base and the residents of St. Louis.

“From the very start, from the very beginning, the way they welcomed us into the city was just incredible,” he said. “As I said many times, I haven’t experienced that yet before like this, not (just) the club is sticking together but the entire city. And that is just an amazing feeling. Wherever you go, people not only asking for pictures or having conversations, people just, I don’t know, everywhere being so nice. Sometimes when I’m even going for a walk and people at a traffic light are just screaming at you and it’s amazing. We are very thankful for the fans in the city.

“It’s good to have people that you can trust and that you can talk to at times like this. My pastor, who’s a very close friend of mine here in America, and his family and also our church has been of great support for us and has been there for us the whole time. And sometimes, there was a lot of crying, a lot of weeping, a lot of sorrow and suffering in that time. But it was also through our belief in Jesus there was still a lot of joy in the midst of suffering and seeing a lot of people caring for us and supporting us and loving us in so many ways. It doesn’t matter, within the club, family, friends, church, we receive flowers, people would bring meals and it was incredible. So many times we were drawn to tears because of the love of so many people.

“Sometimes you don’t even know what’s going on within yourself. I talked to my wife the most in that time and the crazy thing is like even though my wife is suffering with her health issues, she was most of the time the one encouraging me and encouraging each other, which is incredible. I think it’s very important to talk openly about it. And to be very honest, I appreciate this setting a lot because I know that I can talk very openly about it because I know from where I come from, it’s never as easy to talk about stuff like that and as openly because many times it gets seen as weakness.”

Last week, Lowen was far enough along in his rehab to rejoin the team in practice. He found that the training was also a help on the mental side as well as the physical side.

“Soccer, it’s not my identity and soccer is not like what I live for,” he said. “I know as a Christian believer that Jesus is what I live for, and he has carried us through this time as always, but obviously, soccer has been also like being out on the pitch and having fun with the guys and thinking about something else is amazing. And I’m very, very thankful that I can be healthy again because obviously, I mean, the good thing was I could take care of my wife when I was injured. But now that she’s also doing well, it’s also good for me to think about something else. And I know that my wife is also very happy about that to see me playing again.

“It’s tough for sure to watch every single game always from the outside, not being able to play. And obviously the longer it gets, the more frustrating but also the more joy I have to be back now. It’s great to be back and I haven’t even been on the roster yet. But like just the training itself, not being in the gym all day but being able to train with the guys this is amazing.”

City SC is in ninth place in the Western Conference with 16 points in 12 games, with a league-high seven ties and certainly would have benefited from Lowen’s playmaking and his deft touch on free kicks. Even though he has appeared in only three games, Lowen is tied for the team lead in assists with two. Last season, his 14 assists were nine more than anyone on the team and the fourth most in the league.

This is just the start for Lowen. Having not played in over two months, he will be eased back into the lineup, likely coming off the bench for a game or two before being ready to play a full game.

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