Veteran goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, the former Seattle Pacific University star acquired by the club in mid-September, will make his Sounders FC debut at 7 p.m. Wednesday, when Seattle concludes CONCACAF Champions League group play against Marathon of Honduras.
“We’re going to give Hahnemann the start tomorrow,” coach Sigi Schmid said Tuesday. “I’m sure it’s going to be a special moment because he gets the opportunity to play for the (MLS) Sounders, which is something that he’s always wanted to do as a guy who grew up here, and played his college ball here and got big with the old USL Sounders.
"I think it’s going to be a special occasion for Marcus. It will be great for our fans to be able to come and see that. It will be a unique day. He’s calm right now, but I’m sure he’ll be a little emotional before the game.”
The Sounders have already qualified for the quarterfinals of the 2012-13 Champions League tournament in March. But Wednesday has meaning because it will determine seeding.
If the Sounders win, they become a top four seed. A loss creates a lower seed that could slot them against powerful Mexican sides next spring, notably Monterrey and/or Santos Laguna, which eliminated Seattle from last year's tournament.
Going with Hahnemann in goal instead of regular goalkeeper Michael Gspurning is, according to Schmid, a result of the manner in which Hahnemann has been training since he joined the club.
"I think we did the right thing on his training, where we worked and plateaued, worked and plateaued," said Schmid,. "He feels pretty good. You can see his sharpness come back, which is very good. His experience, his organizational abilities are very good when you put him into a scrimmage. He’s coming up with big saves. All of those things are still positive.'
An All-America choice at SPU, Hahnemann played for the USL Sounders between 1994-96. He also played for the Colorado Rapids from 1997-99, and subsequently had an extensive career in Europe. He spent 2002-09 with English club Reading, 2009-11 with the Wolverhampton Wanderers, and 2011-12 with Everton.
At 40, Hahnemann signed with the Sounders with the goal of finishing his career in the same city in which he started. Schmid said Tuesday that it is not out of the realm of possibility that Hahnemann will return to the Sounders next season.
"I think that’s something that we sit down at the end of the year and talk about," said Schmid. "For sure, if Marcus has an interest, he knows what the situation is. Right now, obviously we’re very happy with Gspurning. Michael has proven himself to be our No. 1 and is very solid.
"But certainly if you can have somebody like Marcus, what he provides for you on the soccer field and in the locker room . . . our goal is always to play in a lot of games, so there are going to be opportunities to play. It would be great if he wanted to do it. But I think at his age, Marcus deserves to step away from the stage too, when he wants to. Right now he wanted to come back for this opportunity. Maybe one more year fits in."
Gspurning is expected to return to goal when the Sounders play their final regular-season game of the season against the L.A. Galaxy in Carson, CA. Sunday night.