Marcus Hahnemann got his celebratory day in the spotlight Sept. 17, when he signed with his hometown Seattle Sounders FC.
Since then, the veteran goalkeeper has worked behind the scenes to get back into playing shape.
“The first two weeks I struggled,” he said. “I mean, it was hard. Preseason’s always hard, but I had more time off than I normally had – and then the fact that I thought I was actually retired. And I was enjoying it: eating whatever you want, for the first time in 20-something years where you could do that every day.”
Now the renewed work seems to be paying off as Hahnemann and his coaches detect a turning point in the 40-year-old’s comeback efforts.
“Today he was very good,” goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra said Wednesday after training. “He’s finally winding into form where he looks like the goalkeeper we thought that we signed.”
The player they signed is a Seattle native with nine caps for the U.S. national team and more than 300 appearances with English clubs such as Fulham, Reading and Wolverhampton.
He seems to be returning to form as the Sounders are in a 10-day break in their Major League Soccer season.
The club returns to action Wednesday with a home match against Real Salt Lake. With No. 2 seeding in the Western Conference on the line, that seems an unlikely spot for Hahnemann’s debut.
More likely is the Oct. 24 date against Marathon of Honduras, which concludes CONCACAF Champions League group play in a group that the Sounders already have clinched.
“Could be; could very much be,” coach Sigi Schmid said of a Hahnemann start. “I mean, (reserve keeper Andrew) Weber has continued to train well … so it’s a little bit of a battle positionally. But Marcus has definitely stepped up his game in the last two or three practices.”
Seattle’s clear No. 1 keeper is Michael Gspurning, who leads the MLS in goals-against average (.74 gpg) and winning percentage (.611). Hahnemann and Weber are competing for the reserve role, along with second-year men Josh Ford and Bryan Meredith.
That adds up to an unwieldy five goalkeepers – two more than ideal – competing not only for playing time, but also for practice reps.
“I believe all those guys need to get their work,” Dutra said. “Yeah, it’s difficult. … Three is the perfect number, for sure.”
Playing time for reserve keepers is usually scarce enough. So, all those reserve keepers had to come to terms with the reality that their chances at playing time got slimmer still when Hahnemann signed.
“Absolutely,” Dutra said. “I can’t make them a right back. They play one position … and there are five signed guys. I think it’s difficult – I don’t think, I know it’s difficult. There’s nothing I can say to them except ‘Let’s keep working. What can we gain today and each and every day we come out here?’ All I can do is be honest with them: This is the situation we’re in.”
Three Sounders are away this week for duty with their international teams: defender Adam Johansson (Sweden), midfielder Mario Martinez (Honduras) and forward Eddie Johnson (USA), who was officially named to the roster this week.
“It was good for Eddie,” Schmid said. “Obviously he’s worked very hard, and he’s been scoring goals. … It’s certainly a chance he deserves based on his performance in league play.”
Schmid said Johnson is probably the only one of the three with a chance of rejoining the Sounders in time for the RSL game next week.
Schmid also revealed that midfielder/defender Brad Evans is on the standby list for the U.S. national team.
Defender Leo Gonzalez is expected to be out two to four weeks with a hamstring injury. … Defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado suffered a facial fracture Sunday in Seattle’s 3-0 win over Portland. Surgery is not required, and Schmid said the club would be careful with the injury and would inquire about possible use of a protective device during matches.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org @donruiztntblog.thenewstribune.com/soccer