Chicago Fire FC enters the new decade with a new-look sporting staff and roster top to bottom. With this overhaul comes real possibility and excitement. That is exactly what piqued the interest of new goalkeeper coach Adin Brown, who is also in search of a fresh start.
First-year Head Coach Raphael Wicky hired Brown, 41, on Jan. 16 from Portland Timbers 2, where he spent the last two seasons. Before his stint in USL, Brown led the goalkeeping duties for the Timbers First Team from 2015-17 and helped guide the club to its first MLS Cup title. But Brown was eager to get back into MLS, and joining Fire FC was the perfect fit.
“The Chicago Fire have a massive reputation in this league,” said Brown. “I remember playing against them in the early 2000s when they had some of the best teams MLS has ever seen. I want to be a part of bringing that back to the city of Chicago.”
Brown brings with him tremendous goalkeeping acumen. He spent 12 years as a professional in the United States and Norway. He knows MLS inside and out. He featured for four MLS clubs, and he’s optimistic that experience will jell nicely with the European philosophies that Swiss manager Wicky provides.
“It’s only going to make us stronger in the long run by combining our thoughts and ideas,” said Brown. “The cohesion already within three weeks has been very strong.
“With Rafa, he’s a very intelligent coach where he knows what he wants, but he also wants people’s opinions,” he continued. “That’s extremely healthy.”
Brown will lead a goalkeeping corps led by incumbent Kenneth Kronholm, who started 20 matches last season after Chicago acquired him in May. Fire FC also brought in two offseason acquisitions in veteran Bobby Shuttleworth, who spent the last three years with Minnesota United, and Connor Sparrow, who has plied his trade primarily in USL.
Brown likes what he sees from his union so far. He’s been a No. 1 goalkeeper, a No. 2 and a No. 3 in his career. He understands the different nuances that go into managing each responsibility. He understands what his ‘keepers are going through, and that rapport can pay dividends.
“Not only are they great goalkeepers, but they’re great individuals,” said Brown. “You need to be able to work for each other, while still having the mentality of, ‘I want this job.’ What I’ve seen over the last three weeks is these guys really pushing each other every single day trying to get better.”
Added Sparrow: “It’s been a super easy transition. [Brown] has done a really good job of making sure we have a good camaraderie within the group. Every goalkeeper coach is different, but Adin is confident in what he preaches and you pick up on that immediately.”
As the new season approaches, the Fire look to return to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2017, and the team is confident it has the pieces. For Brown especially, he hopes a return to Soldier Field can resurrect the magic of those Fire teams of old and build upon the legacy of one of MLS’ early franchises.
“If we have success, people are going to show up,” said Brown. “Chicago is a massive sports city, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. We’re ready for it.
“We can build something very special here.”