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September 17, 2012 at 6:35 PM

A stop and chat with Marcus Hahnemann

hahnemann interview2.jpgMarcus Hahnemann, Sounders FC’s newest acquisition, had his first practice with the team Monday (photo gallery) and spoke with the media afterward for about 16 minutes. The veteran goalkeeper covered a number of topics, as you might expect.

Hahnemann is a fun and thoughtful quote in the Kasey Keller mold, so I think you’ll enjoy the transcript of the long interview:

* * *

(What are your thoughts on this actually happening?) “I was blown away. I talked to (GM Adrian Hanauer) last week and he just said, ‘Look, there might be a way we can do something. Do you still want to play?’ and I was like, ‘Really?’ He was like, ‘Yeah. Come out and train.’ So I came out and trained with (goalkeeper coach Tommy Dutra and Andrew Weber) and went for an hour and (Hanauer) goes, ‘You still want to play?’ And I go, ‘For you guys, yeah.’ It was simple as that.”

(A nearby train whistles very loudly, so Hahnemann responded in that direction…) “Thanks!”

(Then to the media…) “(The trains) go right past my house in Cle Elum.”

(And back to the train…) “Thanks! Thanks guys! Love ya!”

(Then Hahnemann continued his answer…) “It was just something that we thought had slipped through the fingers and gone by the wayside, and then all of a sudden it’s happening. It didn’t quite make sense. Adrian called me up on Friday and goes, ‘Come in and just sign some stuff and let’s get everything done. I think we can do it.’ You’re still not 100-percent sure if it’s actually going to happen. Everything just came into place.”

(Mentally, how retired were you?) “I was really retired. I was really retired. I was enjoying sitting in my cabin. I started about 10 different projects that need to be done. The decks have to be ripped up and all these different things. I’ve already pressure-washed and I have to paint the deck and do all these things, because now I’m retired — you can’t pay someone to do that anymore. You know what I mean? That’s stuff that you have to do. I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ That, and I have to go into work. You’re just like, ‘Oh my gosh. Every day.’ I don’t know. It’s pretty amazing. Just sitting in the locker room before training and just looking around, I was like, ‘I can’t believe I’m here.’ ”

(Can you plug back in to that professional mindset once you’ve plugged out?) “I hope so. I was sitting there and everyone’s like, ‘You must be so excited!’ I was sitting up in Cle Elum — I went fishing yesterday with a couple of my friends — and I go, ‘Yeah, but I’m not up here tomorrow.’ My mindset was that: You’re retired and you’re going to hang out. All of a sudden it’s, ‘You’re going to go back to work?’ Diving around and the training and the part where you think you’re done. And you don’t have to watch your weight anymore so much. Also what I have to say is, ‘Thank you Amanda’ — my wife made me run almost every day for the last five months. She goes, ‘I don’t want you to get too fat, so we’re running every morning.’ So we’d go out and run. Otherwise I’d have been dead meat out here. There’s no way I could have done it. But things like your shoulders and stuff, just from hitting the ground when you’re fully stretched out, which I haven’t done in a few months, with things like that you think, ‘Oh, I haven’t been this sore in a long time,’ but just getting through that and I’ll be there.”

(How exciting is it to see what the Sounders have become now and to be a part of that?) “I went to a Sounders game, one of the first games a couple years ago, and I was blown away. I was walking around the stadium and went to my seat and I couldn’t believe it. Even when my parents were talking about getting season tickets, I was like, ‘Are you going to use them all?’ and they’re like, ‘Yeah, but there are like 25- or 24,000 season tickets sold.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ I couldn’t believe how the city was just dying for it to happen. The way they’ve done it and everything, it’s incredible. Now 60,000 against Portland and the Galaxy — it’s unbelievable.”

(What have you seen regarding changes in Seattle and Washington youth soccer?) “Everything is different. You go to the clubs and now a lot of the guys that we played with in the old Sounders, Bernie James and Chance Fry are two guys I can name — Bernie’s running Crossfire and Chance is running Eastside — and how that has all changed. It’s almost run like a professional club. The amount of kids they have out there… and having all the coaches paid just ramps the coaches’ (level) up; you can weed out some of the guys and have better coaches for the kids. It’s run a lot different than when I was around. Everything has changed now with the academies and stuff. It’s quite a bit different than when I was around, but ultimately I think the kids and youth soccer are going to benefit because of the better coaches and the amount they’re playing now. You see some of the little kids, they’re unbelievable. They’re 12-, 13 years old and they’re developing in this city.”

(What are your hopes and expectations for this year and moving forward when it comes to playing?) “As much as I can. Of course I want to play. I’m not coming here just to make numbers and to come into training — that’s not why I’m a goalkeeper. I can tell you it’s not the money that Adrian’s paying me. (laughs) I can tell you that for a fact. That’s not why I came out here. Adrian did tell me he was a little bit embarrassed in what he was offering and I go, ‘Whatever’s fine. It doesn’t matter. I just want to come out and whatever it is, it’s more than I was making two minutes ago and a lot more than my wife’s making.’ Because it was supposed to be her turn, but she’s still slacking. (laughs).”

(How frustrating was it dealing with the allocation process and do you think it was fair to you to have to return to the league this way?) “Of course not. Of course it wasn’t fair. It was so frustrating. This year Kasey (Keller) had some tickets to a game and Kristin, his wife, said, ‘Oh, should I call Amanda and Marcus?’ and Kasey goes, ‘He won’t want to go.’ It was just easier to stay away because it was more disappointing when you come down and you see the sort of fans that you’d only dream of when we were back here. It was pretty frustrating to go, ‘I can’t be a part of it.’ So I didn’t go this year. I didn’t go to one game, which is kind of detriment now because I don’t know some of the guys. I was like, ‘Geez, I wish I would have been paying more attention.’ That will all come. The whole allocation was designed to make the league fair and all that stuff, but then you can sign anybody from any other national team and they don’t have to go through the same sort of process. It’s a little bit frustrating. Last year, funny enough, Montreal had the allocation pick, so if I had signed with the league, because I’m a U.S. national-team player, I would have ended up in Canada. (laughs) That makes sense. That makes sense to me. Go to Canada.”

(Was there a person of memory that shaped you early in your soccer career here?) “There are so many people that had an influence. My dad coached me when I was younger. Then going and playing with Cliff McGrath at SPU for all those years. We made it to the Final Four three times in four years, won it my senior year. Having Alan Hinton in the old Sounders and playing with (Brian Schmetzer) and all those guys; we had such a great team. We had a lot of young guys coming through like the Dunns, (Jason) Farrell … and then we had this mix of old guys, Billy Crook, Schmetz, Chance Fry, Neil Megson, Bernie James, Dick McCormick, David Hoggan — they all had this experience, and it really helped us grow and was why we destroyed everybody back in the day. We were so much better than everybody else. We had such a great team spirit. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing, but if there was one thing it was when we won the (1995) championship at Memorial Stadium — that was amazing in the shootouts.”

(How long did your dad coach you?) “Forever, I think. We parted ways when I was 16 or 17, because we were bringing stuff home which didn’t need to come home, so I went and played for Tim Duffy at Federal Way U-19 my last year. My dad kept coaching that team … in Renton. You could throw a rock there (from here). We played half our games here, so it was pretty interesting.”

(Makes it very cool, huh? This chapter?) “It’s unbelievable.”

(What’s it like seeing the club and fans embrace the history that you were a part of?) “This is what it’s about. The soccer in this country is so young really. You don’t have the history like you do in England. Just to discard that would be pretty stupid. We built up that fan base back in the NASL with the Sounders there and then you start it again. We had 12,000 in Memorial in the playoffs, which was a sellout there. They brought in extra seats and we thought that was the best it was going to get. Next thing you know, once you start getting 30,000 season-ticket holders it changes the perspective of everybody. Now you have average sports fans going to the game. That would never have happened in the past. That is the key. People go to down and you go to the after-game and the bars in town and the different pubs around the stadium, the place is jamming. The whole atmosphere, that’s what everybody wants. With that history, that all kind of comes in and that fan base, and you still have a lot of the old players around, it makes it what it is.”

(Do you view this as the last couple months of your career?) “Let’s say 14 months. Let’s shoot for that and then we’ll revisit things next year. I hope to be around next year. We’ll see how the old legs and everything goes through. I felt pretty good today, then (Babayele Sodade) was smashing goals past me at the end of training, so maybe not so good. But that’s one of those things. You just keep going and we’ll see where it takes us.”

(Did you ever think while you were out there, ‘I should be out on the river right now’?) “I was fishing last night, pretty late.”

(How’d you do?) “OK. Not great.”

(How much have you seen MLS grow since you left in 1999?) “You have the fan base and then (David) Beckham came in and the next thing you know the coverage maybe doubled or tripled. The media coverage just went way up. That media coverage goes up and that really helps the league grow. When the fans seem to know the players, they keep coming back and it becomes interesting. If they don’t anybody, if you don’t have names on the backs of your shirts and they don’t know who you are or anything, then there’s no reason to come. It just becomes, ‘Let’s go watch a soccer game.’ That’s why the L.A. games are so popular, because you go, ‘Oh, they’ve got Beckham. They’ve got Donovan. We’re going to go watch and we have somebody to yell at.’ That’s what makes it interesting. You look at any other sport, my brother-in-law is a diehard sports fans, he can name players off of every American football team, and he knows which guys he likes, he knows which guys he hates, but he watches the games regardless — even more when he hates guys. You know what I mean? He goes, ‘This guy is an idiot! You’ve got to watch!’ I don’t even know who. I’ve been so out of it. I have no idea what’s going on in American sports because it’s so hard to follow over there. I feel pretty funny when I go, ‘Didn’t that guy used to play for (so and so)?’ and they go, ‘That was like four years ago,’ and I go, ‘I don’t know,’ and just turn it off. It becomes uninteresting almost. Once you get to know the guys, people will come watch.”

(What’s your relationship like with Tommy Dutra?) “I’ve known Tommy for forever, and Kasey, so I knew it was going to be a pretty easy fit to go in there. It was going to be super easy. You know what to expect really.”

(What was your pre-practice speech all about?) “You have to introduce yourself and then go through the family history. (laughs)”

(You proud of yourself for not picking up the Brad Friedel English accent?) “No, I’ve got it. (laughs) … (My son) Hunter’s got it. He can turn it off and on. He talks to an English person and goes full-on English. Or all of a sudden if he starts talking about cricket, it’s English. You know what I mean? (He) can’t speak like American when he’s talking about something English. He talks about rugby and will go straight into English. He’s funny. Austin, my youngest, you might say he’s got a couple of words, but not really compared to Hunter. Hunter, you’re like, ‘Wow. It’s amazing.’ ”

(What was their reaction when you told them you’d be playing again?) “We didn’t really tell them until like Friday. We picked them up from school and got into the car. We were heading up to the cabin in Cle Elum and Amanda goes, ‘You want to tell them?’ I told them I signed with the Sounders and they were like, ‘What do you mean? To coach?’ (laughs) ‘Are you coaching? Sweet Dad! You got a job!’ I go, ‘No, playing.’ They go, ‘Shut up…’ It took them like the whole hour’s drive up to Cle Elum to believe it. It was pretty amazing. They go, ‘Wait a second. Really? You’re a Sounder?’ It was pretty unbelievable.”

(Is that proud as a dad seeing Sounders gear in schools and everywhere?) “The memorabilia you see driving down the road — the scarves in the windows, people wearing shirts everywhere — it’s absolutely amazing. That stuff you could only dream of. I don’t know we even sold shirts back in the days. You know what I mean? Now all of a sudden, you see it everywhere. Posters up. You go to a bar and they’ve got Sounders stuff up — when the next game is on TV. It’s pretty amazing the way our country I think has changed. I know there was a Champions League game on not too long ago and one of my friends went to go watch it in a bar. Somebody came in and they go,’ Oh, I thought the NBA playoffs would be on?’ Everyone was watching the soccer game. There was an NBA playoff game on and the whole bar was watching the soccer game. There was one little TV off to the corner with the basketball game. (My friend) couldn’t believe it. He was blown away by it. He was one of the English guys who was in the States at the time. He thought, ‘Maybe I’ll get a chance to watch the game,’ and all of a sudden he’s like, ‘Everybody’s watching.’ He couldn’t believe it.”


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