Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann played the first 67 minutes of the reserve game against the Colorado Rapids in Commerce City on Monday. The 42-year-old started his professional career with the Rapids in the late 1990s, improving throughout his three-year stint and raising his game for 13 years in England with Fulham, Reading, and Wolverhampton. Hahnemann returned home to Seattle for retirement in 2012, but Sounders assistant coach Brian Schmetzer and other folks basically talked him out of it.
Schmetzer provided instructions from the bench during the 1-1 reserve game today, and a number of Hahnemann’s old Colorado connections watched as well. In an interview after his cool-down sprints, Hahnemann took a long look back at the early years.
“When I started with the old Sounders in the A league,” Hahnemann recalled, “I was playing against Lorne [Donaldson, Director of Coaching at Real Colorado]. We had a good rivalry with the Foxes. Lorne was here today. Frank Kohlenstein [also at the game] is still the coach at the Colorado School of Mines. All those guys who were here then are still here now. And I’ve kept in contact with them. It felt like coming home almost. My oldest son was born here. We kept our house here forever. We finally sold it last year because we always thought we’d end up back here at some stage.”
Photo by John Babiak
Marcus Hahnemann watches a shot sail past the post in the 1-1 Sounders/Rapids reserve game on October 6, 2014
The Seattle soccer scene took a slight dip when the NASL folded, but it came roaring back before MLS came along.
“There was a time,” Hahnemann recalled, “… ‘84 until ‘94 basically, when there was nothing. But then we had the Tacoma Stars, FC Seattle. Then in ‘94 I just finished up at Seattle Pacific University and stepped right in because I was playing full-time. In college, it’s kind of your job. I had such an advantage to play at such a young age.”
Fast-forward to October 2014.
“Now,” Hahnemann said with a pause. “I’ve played a long time. One of the questions Schmetz asked me before I played was, ‘Look, if you don’t play, what are you going to be like? Are you going to want to play?’ Obviously, I still want to play. And I think I can play, for the first team. So he asked me again, ‘what are you going to be like if you’re not playing?’ I said, ‘Schmetz, if I don’t play games next year, that doesn’t matter. It’s still my team.’ I’ve played lots of games for the Sounders, maybe not recently. But this is my team.”
Hahnemann remembered his options in 2012. “I didn’t want to go to Montreal,” Hahnemann said. “I would have come to Colorado because we still have a lot of connections here. But that’s why I retired and ended up in Seattle. It was like, ‘done, I’m done.’ And the next thing you know, I was asked to play. I had three months off not playing.”
That was two years ago. Hahnemann made four saves in the Sounders’ 3-1 CONCACAF Champions group stage victory over Marathon in 2012, his lone appearance of the season. He played four MLS games, CCL games, and reserve games in 2013. But his place on the team is not measured in minutes alone. Hahnemann’s history with the club goes back decades, and he’s still part of the team.
Hahnemann joined in with teammates for the Sounders away-victory song in the locker room following the 4-1 victory over the Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Sunday afternoon. The song follows the melody of “Jingle Bells,” but with different words, of course.
“That goes back to the old ‘80s,” Hahnemann recalled. “Old Sounders. When we win one away, we sing the song. When the new guys come in, they say, ‘are you kidding me? This is so stupid and corny.’ We do it all the time. I’ve always done it, and I think it was before my time.”
Hahnemann’s time, at 42, predates MLS and extends into the future with Seattle Sounders FC. He can still play on the field, yet he has an eye for tomorrow.
“I have my ideas for the future,” Hahnemann said. “Even on the field. As a goalkeeper, you’re constantly yelling. You’re trying to organize, trying to get the guys back in position. So you are kind of coaching all the time. I wouldn’t mind coaching at some stage, whether it’s for the club my kids play for, or at a different level.”