Hahnemann back between the pipes for the Sounders

The veteran goalkeeper has been thrust back into the starting lineup for the club's Western Conference Semifinal with the Portland Timbers

Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers
MLS Cup Playoffs; Western Conference Semifinals
November 2, 2013, 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Network; 97.3 FM; La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)

There is something special about playing for your hometown team. Marcus Hahnemann is reminded of that with each opportunity that he gets to play with Sounders FC.

Retired and out of the game when Seattle came calling last summer, Hahnemann sprung into action. While he was only called upon in the CONCACAF Champions League during the 2012 season, he has been a strong replacement for Michael Gspurning when needed throughout the season.

In August, that meant two starts – and two victories – while Gspurning recovered from a forearm injury. He beamed after shutting out FC Dallas 3-0 at CenturyLink Field, playing in front of a home crowd of 39,360 in his first MLS start since leaving for England in 1999. He added two more starts earlier this month, including one match against the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field.

Now, he will be called upon again as Gspurning will serve a red card suspension in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinal series with the Portland Timbers.

“It’s everything. This is my hometown. A chance to play in the playoffs is … amazing,” Hahnemann said. “Last year in August when I came back, I never thought I’d have a chance to play for the Sounders again. Next thing you know, I’ve got a playoff game this year. It’s pretty amazing.”

Hahnemann was thrust into emergency duty on Wednesday in the Knockout Round match with the Colorado Rapids after Gspurning picked up the red card in the final minutes.

He had been warming up with the rest of the reserves, but was called into action in a high-pressure situation, as the Rapids had a dangerous free kick from just outside the box while trailing 1-0. The free kick was blocked in Seattle’s wall, helping Hahnemann get his feet under him.

Even still, it took a minute or two to get fully engulfed in the match.

“My first goal kick wasn’t too good,” he smiled after the 2-0 victory put Seattle in the West semis. “I think I knocked someone’s hotdog and beer out of their hands. But other than that, it was ok.”

Not every team in MLS has a starting goalkeeper of Hahnemann’s caliber, let alone a backup with his credentials as a 17-year veteran of England’s top leagues and longtime U.S. National Team regular.

That luxury isn’t lost on Seattle Head Coach Sigi Schmid as he prepares his squad for the crucial match on Saturday against Portland.

“Hahnemann is an experienced goalkeeper,” Schmid said. “I feel very confident, I always have, that we have two of the better goalkeepers in the league, so we don’t lose anything, we don’t gain anything. Hahnemann’s kicking is a little better than Michael’s, so he might try to score a goal off of a goal kick or something, but that’s about it.”

Hahnemann now has played 70 career MLS regular season matches and in 1997 backstopped the Rapids to the MLS Cup final.

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