HAMBURG, Germany (June 7, 2006) – The 2006 FIFA World Cup is a homecoming of sorts for the Hahnemann family.
U.S. goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann’s parents left Hamburg, Germany, more than 40 years ago when his father was recruited by Seattle-based Boeing. After 13 years as a professional player and six national team caps, the Reading FC goalkeeper will be joining his family back in Hamburg, where the U.S. has set up its base camp.
“They come over here at least once a year now,” Hahnemann said. “Funny enough, my wife comes over with my kids when my parents come over to visit all the cousins. But we’re playing during the winter. So my wife has seen all my cousins and aunts (in Hamburg) more than I have in the last 10 years.”
Hahnemann, one of a handful of U.S. players able to hold a conversation in German, quickly became the media darling of the local press.
“(My mom) speaks German with my dad, and when I come in she can speak German to me,” he said. “Then my wife comes in and she keeps talking German and my wife has no idea what she is talking about.”
The career path that eventually got Hahnemann to Hamburg with the U.S. National Team began near home as the 6 foot, 2 inch goalkeeper had a successful collegiate career at NCAA Division II Seattle Pacific. The three-time All-American led the Falcons to the D-II title in 1993, his senior season.
In 1994, he signed on with the A-League’s Seattle Sounders and was the only rookie to be named an All-Star with eight shutouts on the season. Bora Milutinovic called him in to the U.S. squad that fall and he started three games and posted a 1-1-1 record vs. Trinidad & Tobago, Honduras and Jamaica.
He played two more years in Seattle, winning the league title in 1996. While there, however, he tried to latch on with a European team but had no luck.
“It’s difficult when you have an American who comes over and trains,” he said. “In ’95 there weren’t many Americans over here so it was difficult because they don’t even think that you can play.”
In 1997 he joined the Colorado Rapids, and early in the season established himself as the starter there. His European aspirations became a reality in 1999, when English First Division side Fulham purchased his contract for $90,000.
For the 2001-2002 season he was loaned out to Rochdale and Reading, playing in six games for each, before latching on at Reading the next season. Playing more than 40 matches a year in all competitions for a team always near the top of the league, Hahnemann again caught the eye of the U.S. national team and Bruce Arena called him in for a 2003 training camp ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Eight years, five months and 28 days after his last appearance, Hahnemann again played for the U.S. in a 2-1 victory over New Zealand on June 8 and backed up Tim Howard in France. The eight-year gap is the longest between any appearances for a national team player.
Back in the fold in 2005, Hahnemann started for the U.S. in his hometown of Seattle in a 4-1 victory over Cuba on July 7 in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Exactly two months later, he earned his first shutout when he blanked Guatemala on the road in a World Cup qualifier.
Hahnemann did not play in any of the U.S. Send-Off Series games, and going into the World Cup, Hahnemann and Howard look to be the backups to Kasey Keller.
“It might be difficult for you to understand, but we’re friends,” Hahnemann told a German reporter who is more accustomed to reporting on the rivalry between Germans Jens Lehmann and Oliver Kahn. “Me and Kasey have known each other for a long time. We’ve been friends a long time. It’s nice to be on the same team together.”
The friends received a big break on Tuesday in Germany, as the heavy metal group Tool offered up some backstage passes for a concert in Hamburg. Hahnemann admitted that their taste in music is one of their common bonds.
“When we qualified against Mexico, we sang some Slipknot together and everyone was like ‘you’ve got to be kidding,’” Hahnemann said. “(Our teammates) weren’t happy with us because we’re probably the only two guys who like anything like that.”