It wasn't all that long ago that Timo Hildebrand was starting for a Bundesliga side that was good enough to qualify for Champions League. It was just last season that Hildebrand was starting in Champions League matches for Schalke 04. Nonetheless, the former German international is out of contract and looking for work.
That quest has led him to at least kick the tires on Major League Soccer, where he's currently training with the Seattle Sounders. While unlikely that the Sounders have the ability to sign someone like Hildebrand -- especially considering they have three goalkeepers on the roster and don't seem particularly interested in adding another before Monday's roster-freeze -- they were apparently perfectly happy to give the 35-year-old a look.
"He wanted an opportunity to see what soccer was like in the states," Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told the assembled media on Thursday. "Why don't you come on over? You'll see what a club is like in the U.S. and what Seattle's like. Also, with the rest of MLS: The training, the atmosphere, the professionalism."
Schmid, who was born in Germany and speaks the language fluently, apparently met Hildebrand at the 1999 U-20 World Cup. Schmid was the head coach of the United States team that includes players like Tim Howard, Taylor Twellman, Nick Rimando and Carlos Bocanegra while advancing to the Round of 16. Hildebrand was the starting goalkeeper for a Germany team that finished last in its group.
That performance proved to be just a blip on Hildebrand's ascension, though, as he was starting for VfB Stuttgart by the following summer. He would eventually play for Valencia, Sporting CP and 1899 Hoffenheim before spending the last three seasons at Schalke where he made 39 league starts and 14 more in European competitions. Along the way he also started seven times for the senior German national team.