TUKWILA — There had been few constants in Sounders FC’s young history like a busy summer.
Success in the U.S. Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League kept the schedule packed every year with a steady flow of midweek games, lineup shuffling, and travel across the region.
But that routine has come to an end, as the Sounders were upset in the third round of the Open Cup last month and didn’t qualify for the 2013-14 CCL. And perhaps the most notable victim is backup goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, who was in line to start many of those nonleague games.
Hahnemann, a Seattle native, came out of retirement in August to end a standout career — one that spanned 13 seasons in England and even longer with the U.S. national team — at home with the Sounders.
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Now it is uncertain how much playing time he has left.
“It sucks. It totally sucks,” said Hahnemann, 41, who indicated earlier this year that 2013 might be his last.
Hahnemann had a first-hand view of a shocking Open Cup exit, as he started a 1-0 road loss to second-division Tampa Bay. The Rowdies scored the lone goal off a rebound.
“He took it pretty hard,” said goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra. “I know he wanted and we all wanted to make a good run in the Open Cup. It’s very strange for us not to be in the Open Cup right now, and those were going to be his games.”
Opportunities going forward might be hard to come by. Hahnemann has yet to play in an MLS game for the Sounders, and doing so might require an injury or suspension to starter Michael Gspurning (a 2012 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year finalist).
However frustrating the situation, Hahnemann hasn’t let it show in practice.
“Marcus is fantastic,” coach Sigi Schmid. “He’s been fantastic for us on the field when he’s had opportunities to play and also in the locker room. We’ll see how the season goes … but he hasn’t hung his head. There’s nothing you can see from him that has shown disappointment.”
Dutra and Sounders FC assistant coach Brian Schmetzer also lauded Hahnemann’s professionalism.
“Marcus comes out every day with a smile on his face, works hard and helps the young players,” Dutra said. “The guy is 41 now and he’s still helping pick up gear. Yeah, he’s disappointed, but have I seen it in his play? No. He still comes out, competes every day and puts it in.”
Schmetzer put it more matter-of-factly: “Marcus works hard every day for not a lot of playing time. I can’t say enough good things about how he’s handled himself when I’m around him.”
So how does Hahnemann, who played for the lower-league Sounders from 1994-96, think those lost games will affect his timeline for retirement?
“I still enjoy coming into work,” he said. “When that day stops happening, when I don’t enjoy coming in here and I can’t do it … ultimately that’s how I gauge it.”
Schmid had the most practical solution.
“What we want to do is get ourselves re-qualified for Champions League, have a better run in the Open Cup in 2014 and convince Marcus to hang around for another year,” he said with a smile.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @joshuamayers