MLS soccer: Sounders' contented sub at goalkeeper

2013-02-12T00:00:00Z MLS soccer: Sounders' contented sub at goalkeeperDave Ord Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 12, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Ever heard the story about the contented substitute?

It's almost always found in fiction.

Add in that the author's body of work includes 13 seasons honing his skills in England as well as a few international tours, and you have something that borders on a tall tale.

But when talking with Seattle Sounders FC backup goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann you get the impression that he grabs his current lot in life like he grabs whistling shots from forwards.

He'll be trying to make as many of those grabs as he can during the four Desert Diamond Cup doubleheaders at Kino Stadium over the next 12 days. The Sounders kick the event off Wednesday with a 5 p.m., match against the New England Revolution.

That's a world, or at least half the globe, away from where he was a year ago - in the English Premier League. In May, just before he turned 40, Hahnemann was released by Everton - "it was more of a salary cap issue," he says - and he returned to his native Seattle.

Retirement was a possibility, but he knew he wasn't about to leave some saves out on the field.

Enter an old acquaintance, the Sounders.

"They wanted me here," Hahnemann said. "It was just trying to see how it would fit into place. … The money wasn't even an issue to me. I want to play for Seattle. This is a team where I started and I just want to get on the field one more time."

He got on the field one time for Seattle last year, in a CONCACAF Champions League group-stage match in October, marking his return to the Emerald City's team for the first time in 16 years.

From 1994 to 1996, he was with the Sounders when they played in the A-League. After that, he began a march up the soccer ladder.

His next tour was a three-year stay with Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids. Then he moved overseas, playing for Fulham and Rochdale before moving to Reading. His eight seasons there included two seasons in the English Premier League. He made two more EPL stops, at Wolverhampton and Everton.

"It was great in England and I had a great career and accomplished everything I wanted, but to see Seattle the way it is now, I only dreamed of that when I was playing in the A-League," Hahnemann said. "That's truly remarkable. We have the best group of fans, and I want to be part of it."

A former U.S. international goalkeeper (Hahnemann has played for the national team nine times) returning from England to Seattle is not a new concept.

Proving you can go home and make saves again, Kasey Keller, the most-capped keeper in U.S. history, played three seasons with the Sounders before retiring

But retirement can wait for Hahnemann, who is expected to back up Austrian Michael Gspurning this year.

"I still enjoy training," Hahnemann said after the Sounders' recent Desert Friendly at Kino Sports Complex. "I'm not saying that I don't enjoy time off. I do that more than most people. I don't dread going into training. And when that happens, when that day comes where I don't want to go to training and I'm not having fun, then I won't go. And that will be the last of me.

"You are never quite sure when you are supposed to stop. They say you're supposed to quit at the top. Well, if you want to play. …"

"I think I'm a fisherman, I fly planes, I do other stuff that I can't mention probably against my contract. But the funny thing is I do all these different things, I have all these different hobbies, but I'm a goalie and I can't get away from it. This is my job and it's kinda what I'm about. But it's not everything."

Desert Diamond Cup

Wednesday at Kino Stadium

• Game 1: New England vs. Seattle, 5 p.m.

• Game 2: New York vs. Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m.

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