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Originally published October 23, 2012 at 6:57 PM | Page modified October 23, 2012 at 11:14 PM

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Marcus Hahnemann gets a start to climax his comeback

Marcus Hahnemann thought his career was over a few months ago. Instead, he'll start for Sounders FC, fulfilling a longtime dream, in Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League game.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Wednesday

CD Marathon @ Sounders,

7 p.m., FSC

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TUKWILA — The dream was over.

As far as Marcus Hahnemann was concerned, hopes of finishing an accomplished career with the Seattle Sounders — his hometown team — had come and gone.

That was just a couple months following his release from English club Everton FC.

And now?

Now the 40-year-old goalkeeper is back from retirement and set to start for Sounders FC in a CONCACAF Champions League group game against CD Marathon of Honduras. Kickoff at CenturyLink Field is 7 p.m. Wednesday and Seattle already has clinched qualification into the quarterfinal round.

Call it the perfect opportunity to fulfill a wish Hahnemann thought would never happen.

"When you step on the field, it becomes real," said Hahnemann, who worked his way onto the Sounders' bench for the past two MLS games. "Being a sub, at least it's closer, but actually playing is I think the ultimate. Most of the fans would give their right arm, their first born to step on that field — I'm one of them. I never take anything for granted. Just to go out one more time it would all be worth it."

And don't make the mistake of calling this Hahnemann's Sounders debut.

"I've played a couple games (here) before," said a smiling Hahnemann, who played for the lower-league Sounders from 1994 to 1996.

Hahnemann has played more than a decade in England and with the U.S. national team, but his path started locally. After starring at Kentridge and Newport high schools, he led Seattle Pacific to a Division II national championship in 1993 before joining the A-League Sounders en route to a long professional career.

It comes full circle Wednesday for Hahnemann, who had 35 friends and family members in the stadium for the game Sunday against FC Dallas.

"I think it's going to be a special occasion for Marcus," said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid. "It will be great for our fans to be able to come and see that, and see the opportunity for him, because it will be a unique day. He's calm right now, but I'm sure he'll be a little emotional probably before the game."

The decision to start Hahnemann against Marathon isn't just sentimental, though.

The veteran's improvement has been clearly visible since he signed just before the mid-September roster freeze.

"You can see his sharpness come back, which is very good," Schmid said. "His experience, his organizational abilities are very good when you put him into a scrimmage and so forth. He's coming up with big saves."

So will Hahnemann be back in 2013? Schmid said there's a place for him, but will leave it to the veteran to decide.

"It would be great if he wanted to do it, but I think at his age, Marcus deserves to step away from the stage when he wants to," the coach said. "Right now, he wanted to come back for this opportunity — but maybe one more year fits in."

NOTES

• Ticket sales for the match with CD Marathon were approximately 5,100 as of Tuesday afternoon. The franchise low for a game at CenturyLink Field is 7,767 for a CCL game in August against Caledonia AIA of Trinidad and Tobago.

• Schmid said he had a good conversation with Mario Martinez after the midfielder tweeted his frustration over a lack of playing time Sunday night. The coach, who admitted communication could have been better on his end, said Martinez's involvement with the Honduran national team has made it harder to establish himself with the Sounders. "I think he understands," Schmid said. "He knows exactly what our feelings are about him as a player and how we cherish him as a player, because he's a player with great abilities, and his future is not only this year with this team but his future is next year, as well."

• Real Salt Lake was eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday night after it played to a scoreless draw with CS Herediano of Costa Rica in Sandy, Utah. RSL lost a header goal from defender Nat Borchers in the 16th minute when teammate Chris Schuler was called for a foul.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com

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