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Originally published Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 8:53 PM

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Hahnemann working off his short-lived retirement

The former U.S. international goalkeeper could play in Seattle's Oct. 24 CCL game against CD Marathon.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Wednesday

Real Salt Lake @ Seattle,

7 p.m., KONG

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TUKWILA — Marcus Hahnemann can't lie. Retired life wasn't bad.

"I was enjoying it," the goalkeeper said Wednesday, about four weeks after signing with Sounders FC. "I was eating whatever you want for the first time in 20-some years, and you could do that every day.... 'Hmm, what do I want to do today? I want to go fishing and I'm going to eat whatever. Chips. Beers in the early afternoon? It doesn't matter. Oh, I did that yesterday? Doesn't matter. This is vacation now.' "

Needless to say, getting back into soccer shape was going to take time and effort.

And while his first few weeks with the Sounders were a physical struggle, especially at 40 years old, Hahnemann has earned praise from the coaching staff for recent performances in practice.

So is he ready for an increased role? Goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra thinks so.

"He's finally rounding into form where he looks like the goalkeeper we thought that we signed," Dutra said.

Coach Sigi Schmid indicated Hahnemann, a former U.S. international and longtime veteran of the English Premier League, could feature in an Oct. 24 CONCACAF Champions League group game against CD Marathon of Honduras. The Sounders have already clinched advancement to the CCL quarterfinals, which means the team can be more flexible with lineup decisions in the group-stage finale.

Hahnemann is currently in competition with Andrew Weber for No. 2 on the depth chart behind starter Michael Gspurning, who leads MLS with a 0.74 goals-against average.

"I think in the last two, three practices, he's been very sharp," Schmid said of Hahnemann. "I know in talking to him, as well, that he feels a lot better. As he said, getting up in the morning is easy now."

The Sounders currently have five goalkeepers on the roster, which is two more than ideal, according to Dutra. The large group can make it difficult to divide up practice reps.

So how does Hahnemann stand out?

"Marcus has an unbelievable ability to get good angles and just stand in the way, get in the way," Dutra said. "His reactions are good for a big goalkeeper, but his strength is just taking up good angles.... He's a phenomenal shot-stopper."

Dutra said Hahnemann is now in the final stage of his "preseason." The team's strategy from the start was to take it slow in the veteran goalkeeper's return from retirement, and the plan has seemingly paid off.

"You can see all the tools that he has start to come back," Schmid said.

NOTE

Leo Gonzalez is expected to be out from two to four weeks with a hamstring injury suffered late in Sunday's win against Portland. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado suffered a facial fracture in the game but isn't expected to need surgery. Jeff Parke needed staples to close up a head wound Sunday but practiced Wednesday without issue.

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