Hahnemann to start match against Marathon

The veteran keeper will be between the sticks for the Sounders when they take on Marathon in the last match of CONCACAF Champions League group play on Wednesday evening.

Over the weekend, Sounders FC goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was approached by his former coach and current Sounders FC broadcast analyst Alan Hinton.

The former A-League and NASL coach pulled Hahnemann aside and wished him luck in his upcoming Sounders debut.

“It’s not my debut,” laughed Hahnemann. “I’ve already played with the Sounders. You should know that.”

It has been 16 years since Hahnemann last took the field for the Sounders, winning the A-League title with a 2-0 victory over the Rochester Rhinos on October 6, 1996, and that is what will make his return to the pitch for the Sounders FC all the more extraordinary.

“He’s come back and for him I’m sure it’s a special moment,” said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. “It’ll be great for our fans to be able come and see that. It’ll be a unique day.”

In between Seattle appearances, Hahnemann played three seasons with the Colorado Rapids then went off to Europe in 1999. There he played for Fulham, Rochdale, Reading and Wolverhampton before landing in a backup role with Everton last season.

After his contract expired with Everton, where he played behind fellow US goalkeeper Tim Howard, Hahnemann, 40, moved back to the Pacific Northwest, spending a lot of time at his cabin in Cle Elum with his family. When the Sounders called, he was quick to pick up the gloves and get back to training, transitioning quickly from the life of retirement to the everyday rigors of goalkeeping.

Hahnemann and the Sounders were both patient though, a luxury afforded them by the stellar goalkeeping of Michael Gspurning.

Now, with over a month of training under his belt, Hahnemann is ready to go for the Sounders as they take on CD Marathon in the final match of the group stage of CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday night.

“I feel really good. These last couple of weeks we’ve been training really hard and finally everything’s starting to click,” Hahnemann said. “I think every day I’m getting sharper.”

Schmid agreed, “We’ve seen his sharpness come back which is very good. His experience, his organizational abilities are very good when you put him into a scrimmage and he’s coming up with big saves.”

He will continue to provide depth in front of the net as the Sounders move into the playoffs. After Wednesday’s CCL group stage finale, they will take on the LA Galaxy in the final match of the regular season at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, before meeting Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Hahnemann has been on the bench for the Sounders in their last two league matches, a scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake last Wednesday and a 3-1 win over FC Dallas on Sunday. Wednesday’s Champions League tilt will mark the final step in the comeback to begin the final chapter in his illustrious career in his hometown of Seattle, where he played in high school and collegiately for Seattle Pacific University before embarking on his pro career.

“When you step on the field, it becomes real. Being a sub is closer, but actually playing is the ultimate,” he said. “Most of the fans would give their first born to step on that field and I’m one of them. Just to go out one last time will make it all worth it.”

Kickoff on Wednesday is set for 7 pm Pacific with national television coverage on Fox Soccer and the local radio broadcast on 97.3 KIRO FM.

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