SEATTLE — Before training with Seattle Sounders FC on Monday, newly acquired goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was asked to introduce himself to his new teammates.
Hahnemann’s reaction: “Seriously?”
His surprise makes sense, considering Hahnemann’s busy career includes 13 professional seasons in England, and nine caps with the United States national team, including the 2006 and 2010 World Cup squads.
Before going to Europe, he had played in Major League Soccer with the Colorado Rapids and with the Seattle Sounders when they were an A-League team. In college, he was a three-time All-American at Seattle Pacific University.
So, figuring most of the current players knew his soccer bio, Hahnemann told them about his family – a wife and two sons. Each had different reactions to Hahnemann coming out of brief retirement at age 40.
“All that I’ve got to say is, ‘Thank you, Amanda’ – who is my wife – who has made me run almost every day,” Hahnemann said after training. “She goes, ‘I don’t want you getting too fat.’ So, we’re running every morning. … Otherwise I would have been dead meat out here.”
Next, Hahnemann re-created his conversation with sons, Hunter, 13, and Austin, 12, when he told them he was joining the Sounders: “They say, ‘What do you mean … coaching? You’re a coach? Sweet, you got a job.’ I go, ‘No, playing.’ They go, ‘Shut uuuuup.’”
Hahnemann admits the turn of events was something of a surprise to him, too.
After being released by Everton, he returned home to Cle Elum. There he did a little fishing, began eating like someone whose livelihood doesn’t depend on a finely tuned body, and started doing the kind of household chores he used to pay others to handle.
His lingering dream of ending his professional career in Seattle seemed unlikely because the MLS roster freeze was closing in, and league rules awarded his rights to Toronto FC.
Then Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer invited him in for a workout with no promises. The Sounders liked what they saw, however, and on Friday, a trade was swung and a deal was struck.
“I was blown away,” Hahnemann said. “… It was something we thought had slipped through the fingers, gone by the wayside; and all of a sudden it’s happening.”
It happened, the Sounders said, for the purest of reasons.
“I would say it was all soccer,” Hanauer said. “We wouldn’t have done it for sentiment. We think he’s still got good goalkeeping in him. It’s always an added bonus if there’s a little bit of sentiment in there as well, but we’re in the business of winning championships. And as much as I love Marcus – he’s a great guy, and I’m glad to have him – if he couldn’t do the business, we wouldn’t have signed him.”
Hahnemann thinks he can still do the job. He is, after all, almost three years younger than Kasey Keller, who last season was not only the Sounders’ starting goalkeeper, but an All-Star. In fact, Hahnemann hopes to play this season and next before once again considering retirement and taking up those chores waiting at home.
Coach Sigi Schmid said decisions about next season can wait until after this one. However, with the Sounders staring down the home stretch of the MLS regular season and CONCACAF Champions League group play, Schmid said he believes Hahnemann could fit in nicely between established starter Michael Gspurning and a trio of mostly unproven reserves.
“He’s an experienced goalkeeper, and he gives us obviously some insurance if something were to happen to Michael,” Schmid said. “And for Marcus, the opportunity to be able to finish his career in Seattle is something that he really wanted. He’s a local kid, and I think from that standpoint it’s a good thing.”
It’s a dream Hahnemann said he had almost given up on. And it’s a dream he now says he can hardly believe has come true.
“My mindset was that: ‘You’re retired, and you’re going to go hang out,’” he said. “And now all of a sudden you’re back to work and diving around and training. … It’s pretty amazing. Sitting around in the locker room before training, I’m just going, ‘I can’t believe I’m here.’”
After training Monday, the Sounders headed to the airport for a flight to Houston. Today, they will continue on to Honduras for their Champions League match Wednesday at Marathon. … Schmid said Mauro Rosales (quadriceps), Christian Tiffert (ankle) and David Estrada (foot) would not be part of the travel party. However, all could be available Saturday when the Sounders play host to league-leading San Jose. … New York forward Thierry Henry was honored Monday as MLS player of the week. It was the fourth time he won the award this season.