TUCSON, Ariz. – By Marcus Hahnemann’s own admission, it’s taken him a little longer to get back in shape at age 40 and he’s still “a little too heavy” coming into preseason.
On Saturday night, he turned the clock back at least a decade, helping a reserve-heavy Seattle Sounders side beat Real Salt Lake 1-0 in the final of the Desert Diamond Cup. Hahnemann was positively everywhere, making five spectacular saves and looking as spry as a man half his age as RSL peppered his net shot after shot.
Don’t be surprised, Hahnemann says. Don’t ever be surprised.
“I’ve never relied on my quickness,” the veteran netminder told MLSsoccer.com. “I’ve always just been about positioning and making them beat me. That’s the part you don’t lose, which is one of the things where someone like me can go a little bit longer than somebody who relies on their quickness.”
It’s talk like that after a vintage performance that makes you think the Seattle native could carry on until he’s 50.
“Forty-seven,” Hahnemann shot back with a smile, perhaps tongue-in-cheek. And perhaps not. “If I can still do it and my body can still do it. Right now, I’m having fun. Those two things have to go hand in hand.”
It isn’t hard to have fun around Hahnemann, who returned to MLS and to his hometown last September after an opportunity arose to back up Michael Gspurning. Hahnemann’s days in the elite of American goalkeepers is over – he was all but retired in his mind last May after a 13-year stay in England and never expected a surprise phone call from Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer.
But now that he’s a Sounder once again – Hahnemann played three seasons for the old A-League incarnation of the club – it’s hard to imagine him ever being away. His fun-loving personality and unique sense of humor is worth it alone, according to Sigi Schmid.
“Marcus is just a good egg in the locker room,” Seattle's head coach told reporters in preseason camp last week. “He’s been in a lot of locker rooms for a lot of years. Marcus is Marcus. He’s got a personality and that personality spreads, so having him in the locker room is important.”
Just how much fans can expect to see Hahnemann in 2013 is another question. He appeared in two games here at the Desert Diamond Cup and kept a clean sheet through 135 minutes. That’s 45 more than he played for Seattle in all of 2012, when his lone appearance came in a meaningless CONCACAF Champions League group-stage game last October.
But to Hahnemann, that’s irrelevant. He knows there will spots for him to pitch in this year, given Seattle’s typical busy slate that includes league, CCL and US Open Cup play. He points out that Gspurning missed 13 regular-season games last season due to injury, and if that’s an upper limit for his own opportunities, that’s a more than suitable.
“Whatever they need,” he said. “If they need me to play, I plan to be ready. If they want me to be the backup, I’ll do that. That’s what being a goalie is. ... We have lots of games and really quick turnarounds and hopefully I get a few games in there.”
Just being home again is the reward, Hahnemann says. The Seattle Pacific University alum still gets chills experiencing the 35,000-plus screaming throngs at CenturyLink Field. He relishes spending more time with good pal and fellow World Cup veteran and Washington native Kasey Keller. And more than anything else, he gets to see his family back together in the place where it all started.
“This was our first winter [that] we’ve been back in Seattle in 16 years, really,” he said. “We really enjoyed being up in our cabin every day in the snow. I loved plowing the driveway. We’ve got a massive driveway and it just dumped snow. Those little chores, you just enjoy.”
If things keep working out that way, Hahnemann’s just fine with the little chores on the pitch, too.