Greenock Morton goalkeeper Brian Schwake speaks with a hint of a Scots accent.However, it doesn’t take long for his true allegiances to come to the fore on our Zoom call with him. After all, we’re speaking just before the United States takes on England in Qatar in the World Cup group stages.
American Goalie Brian Schwake Is Loving Life In Scotland
The Full Scottish By Brian P. Dunleavy
“A lot of the boys in the changing room like to remind me that I’m getting a little Glaswegian in,” he said. “It’s part and parcel of being over here.” Not surprisingly, the native of Mount Prospect, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, is planning to watch the U.S. match in his flat in West Lothian. It also comes as no shock that some of his Scots teammates at Greenock Morton, where he is playing this season on loan from Livingston, are pulling for the Americans on the night.
“I think one of the Morton fan groups posted my photo on social media with ‘USA! USA!’ in all caps underneath,” Schwake said with a laugh. “I think they’re all feeling American tonight.”
Playing For Morton
Make no mistake, though, the 21-year-old keeper is very much focused on the task at hand. The Scottish Premier League may be on hiatus due to the World Cup but the Championship and the lower leagues in Scotland are still very much active. Schwake is speaking to us the night before his side’s 4-1 win against Queen of the South in the third round of the Scottish Cup, with the American in between the sticks.
This weekend, it’s back to league business in the Championship, with Morton set to visit blustery Arbroath, hoping to continue their winning form. The club sit second in the league table, as of this writing, just a point behind Ayr United.
“We’re taking it game by game,” Schwake said. “We weren’t expected to be where we are in the table, but the group has really come together. There are really good boys in the dressing room, and we just need to keep plugging away.”
Helping Morton earn promotion to the top flight would be “amazing,” he added, but it wouldn’t be the American’s first taste of such success in Scottish football. During another season-long loan move to Edinburgh City in 2021-22, Schwake started 34 matches and helped “The Citizens” earn promotion to League One.
“The loan spells have been great for me,” he said. “Right now, it’s just about getting the games in and getting experience. Hopefully, that does me well down the line.”
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SIGNING FOR LIVINGSTON
Schwake signed with Livi in January 2020 (just before the COVID-19 pandemic) after deciding to take a shot at playing the game professionally in Europe following his freshman year at DePaul University. He is a disciple of English goalkeeper-turned-player-agent Neil Thompson, who now runs Big Cat Goalkeeping. Through Thompson, Schwake trained briefly at Blackburn Rovers, where the coaching staff recommended him to their counterparts at Livingston.
Current Greenock Morton manager Dougie Imrie was first-team coach at Livingston last term and saw enough in Schwake in training to bring him west on loan. So far, the American is happy with the path his footballing journey has taken. Livingston have a good history with goalkeepers (Liam Kelly, for example) and an excellent reputation for developing young players. At Morton, meanwhile, Schwake isn’t even the first American-born keeper to play for the club, with David Brcic and Dominic Cervi having blazed the trail.
“Ultimately, every player wants to play at the highest level, and I going to give it a real shot,” said Schwake, who carries a European passport, via Luxembourg, through his father’s family. “I have another year on my contract with Livi, and I’m not looking beyond that, but I’m really happy with how things have gone so far and I’m excited for the future.”