TUKWILA, Wash. — Retirement may have its benefits, but as Marcus Hahnemann found out it can also have some significant drawbacks.
The 40-year-old goalkeeper admits that he struggled mightily during his first two weeks with the Seattle Sounders, largely as a result of his temporary retirement that he was coaxed out of in order to return to his hometown team.
In the last week, though, he said he’s felt as good as he has in a long time.
“I felt like I had power in my legs,” Hahnemann told reporters on Wednesday. “You’re coming out for crosses and don’t have to adjust your timing because you know you can’t get there. It just all felt really good.”
The progress is so good that Hahnemann may soon see his first playing time. The Sounders have nine days between games and then follow that up with three matches in 10 days. One of those will be in the CONCACAF Champions League, where they’ve already qualified for the quarterfinals.
“I have some work to do,” Hahnemann said, noting that Andrew Weber is still ahead of him on the depth chart and has been playing well in practice. “I’m just going out and doing whatever I can.”
As recently as a few weeks ago, Hahnemann had to be having some doubts that he’d get to this point. The veteran had not played in a first-team game in more than a year and had basically been retired since leaving Everton in May.
“His legs weren’t recovering, he was breathing everywhere,” Sounders goalkeeping coach Tom Dutra said. “He was tired.”
Considering Hahnemann’s state of mind before joining the Sounders, that’s probably predictable.
Hahnemann said he was perfectly content with never playing again and was enjoying the freedom of mind that came with retirement.
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“I was eating whatever I wanted for the first time in 20-something years,” he said, joking that he still has 60-70 pounds to lose. “What do I want to do today? I’ll go fishing, have some beers, some chips in the early afternoon it doesn’t matter. I did that yesterday. It doesn’t matter. It was my vacation. I think I deserved that.”
The good news was that the Sounders didn’t need him to be ready right away. With four other goalkeepers, one of whom is Michael Gspurning and his league-leading .74 goals-against average, Hahnemann can be considered a bit of a luxury item.
“It’s taken about the time we expected,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “What we didn’t want to do was go hog wild and push too hard too soon and push him into a state where we would cause an injury or setback. So, we went a little more slowly than if we thought we had to play him right now.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.