RENTON, Wash. – It should come as little surprise that Marcus Hahnemann, at least temporarily, considered retiring at the end of last season.
The 41-year-old goalkeeper had just finished a tough season in which he got fought his first-ever hamstring injury, played less than he had wanted and sat helplessly on the bench as the Seattle Sounders crashed out of the playoffs.
Before making any hasty decisions, though, he decided to take his dog for a run through the nearby Cold Creek trails. Three miles later, he had his decision.
“I came back and didn’t feel that bad,” Hahnemann said, noting he picked a route that took him up some “nasty” hills. “I don’t run that fast, mind you, but I ran most of it. I thought, ‘I don’t feel that bad. If I can do that at the end of the season, I have to be able to play another year.’”
A couple of months later, the Sounders made it official when they announced Hahnemann was coming back for a third season with his hometown team.
Although he admits this will “probably” be his final season, he has left the door open to possibly change his mind. Among the many factors that will go into that decision is how much he plays this season. There’s an opportunity that could be significantly more than the five starts he received a year ago.
“I plan on playing,” Hahnemann said. “That’s my goal, to go in and play. But that’s my plan. If you ask my mom, she’ll tell you I should be starting, my wife probably the same thing. But they don’t pick the team, I don’t pick the team, Sigi [Schmid, head coach] picks the team.
“The thing I can do is work my ass off for the next 39 sessions and put myself in position, like I think I did last year for the preseason where I was playing really well.”
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A year ago, Hahnemann was a key contributor as the Sounders won the preseason Desert Diamond Cup in which a squad of mostly reserves beat a starter-laden Real Salt Lake team in the finals. But Michael Gspurning was coming off a spectacular season and was the entrenched starter. It was only after an injury and some shaky play down the stretch that allowed Hahnemann a chance to get his first MLS action since leaving MLS for England in 1999.
“They’re just going to play and we’ll see how things come along,” Schmid said when asked about the goalkeeping hierarchy. “It’s always an open competition in the sense that you’re always going to play who’s playing better. There’s expectations and maybe in your mind there’s a pecking order, but on the same token if a guy is playing well he’s going to play.”
And that’s all that Hahnemann wants.
“We have a lot of good competition, which is what you need,” he said. “It’s going to make us all better.”