United goalie desires to play internationally
No player on the D.C. United roster watched Andy Najar's offseason transfer to Belgium's RSC Anderlecht closer than Bill Hamid.
The 22-year-old goalkeeper came up through the club's academy with Najar. He lived nearby the Honduran teenager and his family just south of the Beltway in Alexandria when the two both made their jump to the professional ranks in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
"For me it was a heartwarming moment, knowing that a young kid who has to take care of his family and his family depends on him, he's done something well and he's succeeding now," Hamid said.
|Real Salt Lake at D.C. United|
|When » Saturday, 7 p.m.|
|Where » RFK Stadium|
Hamid should be next in line. After he began last season with the under-23 U.S. national team in its failed Olympic qualifying campaign and then faced a curious battle to win back his starting job with D.C. United, Hamid finished the year first in MLS in save percentage (.786), third in goals-against average (1.03) and in possession of a career-best eight shutouts. He was back in senior national team camp in January, and he opened the MLS season last weekend with his usual spectacular work, stopping a penalty kick and denying a certain goal from two yards out during a four-save outing in Houston.
"He had a very good season [in 2012]," United coach Ben Olsen said. "He keeps getting better, and that's an important thing: better as a person, better as a player. As long as that keeps on going according to plan, we won't have him for that much longer. He's that special. But he has to stay grounded."
The result -- D.C. United lost to the Dynamo 2-0 on Saturday -- has always been paramount to Hamid, who is more proud of United returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2007 than he was of his own progression. He has no regrets about the red card he picked up in the Eastern Conference semifinals because it resulted in a penalty kick save by his backup, Joe Willis. What coaches and scouts don't want to see is the miscalculations that have led to unnecessary ejections in each of the last two regular seasons.
New assistant coach Preston Burpo, a 40-year-old former MLS veteran whose deal with United isn't yet official, has inherited the task of marshaling Hamid's precocious talent, replacing Pat Onstad, who joined the front office at Toronto FC.
"They looked for the closest thing as possible to Pat," Hamid said. "Preston, he is very sound with the way he coaches. He's as aggressive as I want him to be. Me, being a young goalie, I've got a lot of growth to go, and he definitely stays on me as hard as Pat did and as hard as I ask him to. It's what I need."
Hamid knows that if he does his part to help United (0-1-0) -- which will try to extend an unbeaten streak at RFK Stadium in its home opener against Real Salt Lake (1-0-0) on Saturday -- his international dreams can be realized just like Najar's.
"We know that the interest is there," Hamid said. "We know that teams are always watching and knocking at the door. It's something that you open your eyes to and want to take advantage and know that it's possible."