- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 19, 2007

SEOUL — As the last game of the season got under way May 13, Marcus Hahnemann was looking forward to a nice summer break. The Seattle-born goalie had started all of Reading FC’s 38 league games in the club first season in England’s top-flight league.

Hahnemann, who was the U.S. team’s third string goalie at the 2006 World Cup, previously had spoken with U.S. coach Bob Bradley, and it was decided he would not play in the Gold Cup or Copa America. His fly-fishing rod and golf clubs were ready, and his home in Colorado beckoned. Then came that last game at Blackburn Rovers. In the 21st minute, the big goalie went out to catch a cross but collided with Blackburn’s Shabani Nonda, whose cleat fractured his right hand. The incident led to the first goal in the 3-3 draw and a nightmarish summer for Hahnemann.

Marcus was devastated,” Reading assistant coach Kevin Dillon said. “He was looking forward to going home after being away for a year, but he ended up having to spend the whole summer doing rehab.”

Doctors inserted a metal plate and 15 screws to fix his hand.

The former Colorado Rapids keeper is hoping he will be ready for the season-opener at Manchester United next month, but Australian reserve goalie Adam Federici has been in good form at the Peace Cup in Korea as Reading prepares for the new season.

“Things are going really well,” Hahnemann said in an e-mail this week. “Maybe a bit slower than I would have liked, but every day is getting better and stronger. I really want to jump back into full training, but I don’t want a big setback. With the program I have going I should make it to the game at Manchester United, no problem.”

Others are more cautious.

“It will be touch and go for Marcus,” Dillon said. “It will be that first game when he has to come out and punch that first ball.”

Before the injury, Hahnemann had been in fine form, earning the most saves in the EPL last season.

Marcus has been my most consistent player,” Reading coach Steve Coppell said. “The medical staff told me he would be ready for the season opener against Manchester United, but I’m not so sure.”

The fact that Hahnemann was left off the roster for the Korea trip suggests he has a fair way to go to be fit.

Reporters who follow Reading FC say Hahnemann is generous player who identifies strongly with the fans. There are often American flags in the stadium, and if he has a good game, chants of “USA, USA” can be heard.

The American throws his jersey into the crowd after every game and pays for the shirts out of his own pocket.

After a loss and a win in Korea, Reading still has a chance of reaching Saturday’s Peace Cup final against Bolton. To do that, the Royals need to beat Japan’s Shimizu S-Pulse by a few goals today in Goyang, while at the same time hoping Lyon beats River Plate by a lone goal.

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