Photo by Nick Turchiaro/ISIphotos.com
By JONATHAN VERA
CARSON, Calif. – Kasey Keller announced at the beginning of the season he was going to retire at the end of the 2011 campaign, and as his farewell tour rolls on, the 41-year-old goalkeeper could not be more relaxed about his situation as he continues to play at a high level while experiencing new things.
Last week his famed hands became immortalized in plaster and are to be displayed in Seattle’s new Pro Shop featuring Sounders and Seahawks memorabilia. This was a first for the keeper.
"It's cool," Keller said, laughing. "Seattle is crazy for the Sounders, and it's been a lot of fun coming home to something so cool."
His potential successor could enjoy a similar fate.
With Keller leaving at the end of the season, all eyes are currently fixed on U.S. national team goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann after Red Bulls general manager Erik Soler bluntly stated the keeper was going to Seattle.
With Hahnemann, who grew up around Seattle and played for the Sounders' A-League franchise in the 1990s, being good friends with Keller, the current Seattle keeper was thrilled at the possibility of the move.
"Marcus is one of my very good friends," Keller said. "I'd love for Marcus to get the opportunity that I did, to be able to come home and finish your career at Seattle.
"But I stay out of that stuff. That's none of my business in what direction the team goes. I know there's a lot of hurdles, and it's not as easy as it sounds."
Keller is right. It's not as easy as it sounds because of the rules and regulations of Major League Soccer. Since Hahnemann is a returning national team player he has to go through allocation order.
Seattle currently sits seventh in the order, behind Chivas USA, Philadelphia, Houston, Toronto, Chicago and Sporting Kansas City, respectively.
"If you tell me all the other teams are going to pass, then I would say yeah, Marcus Hahnemann is coming to Seattle," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. "I don't think the other teams are going to pass."
A trade could always bring Hahnemann Seattle's way, and while Schmid would certainly welcome the 39-year-old keeper to CenturyLink Field, Seattle is not willing to do what D.C. United did in sending a sizable package to Philadelphia to trade up in the allocation order to get Troy Perkins prior to the 2010 season.
"For us, we would love to have Marcus," Schmid said. "We would love to have him play in his home town. I think he would love to play in his home town, but I think the rules right now don't allow it."
For the time being, Seattle still looks to Keller as its rock between the pipes, and he's been performing at an All-Star-caliber level in his final season as a player.
"At different times you're always thinking, when you're out of contract and that kind of stuff, 'What am I doing here? What am I going to do? What's next?'" Keller said. "Well now I know, and I can just relax and try to play as well as I possibly can.
"My goal the whole time is to get as many people saying by the end of the year, 'Are you sure you don't want to play one more year?'"