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Marcus Hahnemann’s Journey from The Sounders,
to the World Cup, and Back

November 26, 2013 04:19 PM
hahnemann-marcus_8299_jpgMarcus Hahnemann isn’t just from Seattle — he is Seattle. His personality is the perfect blend of Seattle’s laid-back cool with its relentless desire to be the best at everything it does.

Hahnemann, the 41-year old keeper who currently roams between the pipes for Seattle Sounders FC, had plenty to boast about as a youth player, dominating his prep and college opponents at Kentridge and Newport High Schools and Seattle Pacific University, as well as numerous club foes in Washington Youth Soccer. The team MVP at Kentridge and later an All-King County pick as a senior at Newport, Hahnemann went on to even greater heights at SPU, leading the school to the NCAA Division II Championship in 1993.

Hahnemann got his first taste of U.S. Soccer action the following year, appearing three times for the National Team, including a 1-0 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago in November of 1994. At the time, it seemed he’d be a regular in the National side — instead, it would be a record-setting nine years before Hahnemann’s next international appearance.

Not that it was any kind of a "lost decade." Rather than follow in the footsteps of fellow Washington Youth Soccer alum Kasey Keller and star for the U.S. National Team, Hahnemann followed in Keller’s footsteps to the English Premier League instead, teaming with his fellow Evergreen Stater to change perceptions of Americans abroad.

Following three seasons with the A-League Sounders and two-plus with the Colorado Rapids, Hahnemann joined English side Fulham FC before being loaned out — and eventually transferred — to Reading. It was there — in a cold, gray city not all that different from the one where Hahnemann learned his craft — that the legend of Marcus Hahnemann truly took off.

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Hahnemann spent seven years at Reading, helping the team qualify for the Premier League for the first time in its history. In their promotion season of 2005-06, Hahnemann was named to the division’s Team of the Year by his Championship League peers, and would go on to keep 13 clean sheets the following season as Reading placed eighth, a remarkable performance for a newly-promoted side. Hahnemann was beloved by Reading fans, who were known to chant, "U-S-A, U-S-A!" after big saves, and would stand and applaud the American when out in public.

Hahnemann’s prowess between the pipes in England earned him a callback to the U.S. side for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where he suited up for every game as the backup to Keller. It was truly a remarkable moment for Washington Youth Soccer — both goalkeepers on the U.S. squad at a World Cup boasting homegrown pedigrees. Hahnemann would again serve in a reserve role at the 2010 World Cup, this time behind Tim Howard, placing him in an elite group of Washington Youth Soccer athletes to have been a part of multiple World Cup teams.

Following another four-and-a-half years in England, Hahnemann returned home to Washington, assuming — at age 40 — that his career was over. His first club, though, had other plans.

"I was hoping to take a year off and do nothing. And to see kind of what happened," he recalled to England’s Guardian newspaper of the time just after he came home from England. "We'd already decided we'd live down in Bellevue and then it was, do I want to fish every day, go skiing every day, or do I still want to play?"

Hahnemann wanted to play — to finish his career in the city where it began. This past August, he received his first chance to start for his former club, keeping a clean sheet in a 3-0 win over FC Dallas. He ultimately started four games for the Sounders overall — including the first leg of the team’s playoff matchup with the Portland Timbers — and allowed just four total goals.

He says he’s planning to return for another year in 2014, but when he does retire, don’t expect him to wander aimlessly through life.

"You're not 'retiring,’ you've just kind of stopped doing what you're doing. What else are you going to do? What's the next phase of your life?" he told The Guardian. "When you get to that age of retirement people are always kind of freaking out. But if you have other interests then you won't be bored, you've got tons of stuff to do."

With two young boys, a passion for winter sports and heavy metal, and a desire to get into Washington’s rapidly growing hard cider business, Marcus Hahnemann has plenty of interests, and will be just fine — and will be every bit the Evergreen Stater he’s always been.


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