Inside MLS 2015: D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid steps into the spotlight

D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid earned MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors and reinforced his U.S. national team claims with his performances last season. Despite an offseason issue with his shoulder, he is ready to continue his progress in 2015.

Anne-Marie Sorvin

MANHATTAN BEACH, CALIF.

D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid explains his priorities clearly and directly as he sits in front of the small gathering.

There is no room in his calendar and his rapid ascent for shoulder surgery. He knows all too well the time and the toll exacted by such dramatic measures after missing swaths of 2010 and 2011 after some necessary repairs. He prefers a more considered approach designed to guide him back to health and place him back between the sticks as quickly as possible.

“All of that matters: playing as much as possible, training as much as possible,” Hamid said last month. “Sitting out right now? I hate sitting out. It’s the last thing I want to do, sit out a game if I need to.”

Hamid played a significant part in the resurgence with his performances in goal. He entered the season as one of the league’s most promising goalkeepers. He left it as the top number one after a consistent series of displays and the overall improvement within the side allowed him to post a career-high 10 shutouts. His work made a large enough impression to edge out Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando for Goalkeeper of the Year and secure his first Best XI appearance.

Those rewards stemmed from his continued improvement. Hamid, 26, is just about hitting the point where he needs to make rapid advancements in order to push toward his ceiling. His noticeable advancements in awareness and positioning rounded out his overall game and stated his case for a more prominent role in the U.S. national team setup.

“I think it was my reading of the game, honestly — seeing what was about to happen and trying to put out that fire as quickly as possible,” Hamid said. “(It’s about) helping my teammates and speaking to them before the trouble comes instead oh, the trouble has come, tell them what they did wrong. You have to beat the play to the punch as a goalkeeper. You have to see what is about to happen – not necessarily like a quarterback, but you have to see what is going to happen and move your guys around to make sure they can put out that fire.”

Hamid credits the stabilizing presence of Bobby Boswell and the work of the United defense last season for spurring further improvement in his game.

The demands on the international scene reinforced the importance of processing those moments quickly. Hamid earned his first U.S. start since 2012 in the 4-1 defeat against Rep. of Ireland in Dublin back in November. He said he watched the tape of that defeat more than 50 times to figure out his missteps and work through the sequences presented to him over the course of those precious 90 minutes.

“The pace was very, very fast, but I’m happy that I saw it,” Hamid said. “Things built like that. From the second they had that ball in the middle of the field, one outside of the foot pass behind [Matt] Besler, and he’s in. I didn’t think it was going to happen. It was half of a field. Adjusting to that pace is something I want to do and it’s something that will bode well for me in the future. That’s a dream of mine to play at such a high level.”

The path to the top requires constant and continued diligence. The road to the number one shirt is competitive with Brad Guzan and Rimando ahead in the pecking order and Tim Howard still looming as a possibility down the line. There are possibilities ahead in foreign lands if he so chooses once his contract expires at the end of this year. There are responsibilities with United on multiple fronts as this season.

It is enough to keep Hamid firmly focused on the task at hand. It is why he recuperated from his shoulder injury doggedly and warded off a back complaint incurred along the way. There is no time to waste now. There are plenty of objectives still to chase as this new campaign beckons.