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Friday, May 05, 2006

373 Words about Marcus Hahnemann

Marcus Hahnemann is one of my favorites on the 2006 US squad. Maybe I’m partial to goalies, because I used to be one. Maybe I’m partial to premature balding goalies who aren’t thin, b/c I also used to be one of those. “Bald Yank” as he’s known is one of those pseudo-Walter Mittyish sports stories that people love because he’s the eternal underdog who succeeds. He went to a college called Seattle Pacific to play soccer. I’ve never heard of ol’ SPU, and I doubt many people outside of their local Pizza Hut have either. I’m assuming that some well-intentioned college coaches saw him play in High School and thought he wasn’t tall enough or didn’t jump high enough, so he ended up at a lower-level college. Anyway, after his college career, he joins the Seattle Sounders of the A-League (the US soccer version of AAA baseball), and plays well enough to get added to the Colorado Rapids of MLS, leading them to the Championship Game in 1997. He parlays that into a job with an English team called Fulham, but mostly stays on the bench. Then, he gets interest from a club in the First Division called Reading. In England, the second level of soccer used to be called the ‘First Division’, now it’s called the ‘Coca Cola Championship’. Go figure. But, he hits his stride at Reading, and the fans love him. He’s like one of those big mid-western white guys who play tight end in the NFL– fun-loving, irreverent, a fan favorite.. you know the type, like Jeremy Shockey. This year, Reading played lights-out in the ‘Championship’, which is really the second level (?) and got promoted to the Premiership of English Soccer, which is really their highest level (honest), and it’s a great story, really. Marcus brings his fun-loving American act to the big stadiums in England.
Most likely, Marcus will be the #3 keeper for the US, which is one less than he should be. Given his performance and sharpness, he should be #2, but Bruce Arena didn’t take my advice and probably put ManU backup Tim Howard as #2.
But, it’s not like either of them will see serious minutes, so they’re just there for the ride