Norwegian goalkeeping ties helping Portland Timbers' Adin Brown further develop league-leading Adam Kwarasey

Adam Kwarasey, Timbers vs. Caps, 7.18.15

BEAVERTON, Ore. – Portland Timbers goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey had some surprising connections to the team long before he arrived in the Rose City.

Still a young up-and-coming ’keeper, Kwarasey's fourth professional start with Strømsgodset IF in 2007 came against former Timbers goalkeeper and current goalkeeper coach Adin Brown, who was in net for Aalesunds FK, the Norwegian club that Brown called home from 2005 until 2009. While Kwarasey, who was just 19 years-old at the time, doesn't remember meeting Brown that day, he says that it's a strange coincidence that they've crossed paths again all these years later.

“It's funny that someone you played against so many years ago at the beginning of your career, that you kind of cross paths again,” said Kwarasey. “Now he's the one who's going to help you get better.”

Norwegian goalkeeping ties helping Portland Timbers' Adin Brown further develop league-leading Adam Kwarasey -

Adin Brown | Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer

Brown remembers the young goalkeeper's rise to prominence and believes that his own time living and playing in Norway has helped him quickly connect with and relate to Kwarasey as his goalkeeper coach.

“Playing in the league where he started and spent most of his time, knowing what those difficulties are in terms of travel and facilities and things like that, compared to what it is in MLS has helped,” Brown said. “I think it's been beneficial for both of us coming from the U.S. and Norway because there's a mutual respect.

“We played against each other; I knew who he was...I think that mutual respect helps a lot as well because he's seen me play and knows I somewhat know the position,” he added with a laugh.

But adjusting to life in an unfamiliar place, while playing with new teammates in a new league, was initially a tough transition for Kwarasey, a Tippeligaen veteran and Ghanaian international.

“For my girlfriend and my son it's been a little bit more difficult because we're so far away from home and it's a little bit hard to get people over to visit us when it's a 15-hour journey from Norway,” Kwarasey said. “It's been a little bit tough for them, and when it's tough for them it also affects me.”

Though you wouldn't know that by looking at Kwarasey's performances in goal this season. Kwarasey currently leads the league in shutouts with 10 and he won MLS Save of the Week for his win-preserving stop on New York City FC's Khiry Shelton back in April.

“[Kwarasey's performance was] absolutely unbelievable,” Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury told the media after that game, a 1-0 win. “I think that the last save in the 85th minute was obviously key and kept us getting three points. He was huge for us tonight and I’m happy for him.”

Brown believes that Kwarasey is one of the young ’keepers redefining the position for a new era of soccer and is amazed not only by how hard Kwarasey works, day-in and day-out, but also by how quickly he has adapted to a totally new league.

“I think he's a very modern, new-age goalkeeper,” he said. “He's unbelievable with his feet. He's almost like another attacker, someone to maintain possession for us. He reads those through balls so well. His communication and understanding of the game are so good. His domination of the box has really taken off.”

“This is not an easy league to come into,” Brown continued. “It's a very physical, athletic league and it takes some time to get used to. I think he's starting to understand what this league is now.”

Kwarasey, however, believes that the credit for his impressive shutout record and quick adaptation to MLS belongs with his Timbers teammates, particularly the four defenders who line up in front of him, week after week.

“We've defended like a unit,” he said. “The reason why we've been solid back there this season is the whole team [performance] and hopefully my presence can contribute to that. I feel that I'm a calm person and I don't panic. It's not often that I looked stressed, and hopefully that can help my defenders to feel calm and confident in me.”

Kwarasey says that this Zen-like calm in goal is merely a reflection of his personality.

“That's how I am as a person,” he said. “I can also snap and switch to get angry and loud sometimes. But me as a person, I'm calm and I kind of bring that into my game as well because it helps me to stay focused. I think that's why I'm playing like I'm playing, because I know my style of play is almost how I am as a person also.”