Hamid benefiting from early adversity

BY foxsports • June 18, 2012

A young player can have all the talent, tools and gifts imaginable in this world. Yet, until that player has faced and overcome adversity, he isn’t likely to know what it really means to be a professional. Bill Hamid learned that lesson the hard way.

At the start of 2012, the highly-regarded young goalkeeper was on top of the world. Just 21-years old, Hamid had already been anointed Tim Howard’s backup on the US national team. He was locked in as D.C. United’s starting goalkeeper while the 2012 Olympics loomed large in his future.

In a matter of weeks, that perfect picture cracked and threatened to crumble, and Hamid’s dream year quickly became a nightmare. He played a part in the US Under-23 national team’s failed Olympic qualifying bid, suffering an injury in the decisive game that caused him to give up a costly goal. That same injury opened the door to him being benched in favor of back-up Joe Willis, who had put together a strong run in his place.

Then, amid all that, Hamid’s name wasn’t among the players chosen to attend the US men’s national team training camp in May, the clearest sign that things had changed quickly for the top prospect.

For Hamid, that sequence of events, particularly his benching by D.C. United, served as an opportunity to show how he could bounce back from bitter disappointments.

Hamid responded by earning his starting job back and showing the skills and talent that have him widely-regarded as Tim Howard’s heir to the US national team starting goalkeeper job. Since Hamid returned to the net, United has gone 5-0-1 and moved into first place in the Eastern Conference, with Hamid registering three shutouts during that stretch.

“I learned a lot about myself,” Hamid said of the trying times he endured earlier in the year. “Situations like that make you mentally stronger. It was a big test for me because I was definitely down, and definitely a little frustrated. I just wanted to succeed, I wanted to do well in training, and I wanted to show how good I am and what I can do.

“Thankfully I did that, I got back in goal and I performed well,” Hamid said. “Credit to Joe Willis, he did extremely well when he was in there, but I want to be the No. 1 so I was going to do what it took to get that back.”

“I’m proud of him that he bounced back from that,” D.C. head coach Ben Olsen said of Hamid. “It’s an emotional thing to go through. It took him a week or two to get over, but he’s bounced back and I think he’s doing pretty well and he’s in a good place.”

Hamid put in another outstanding performance in net on Saturday, making four saves in D.C. United’s 1-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Union. After that match, he spoke with FOX Soccer about the trying times he had been through and acknowledged that the emotional roller coaster ride he has been on tested his mettle.

“To go from such a high (with the national team) to such a low (losing in Olympic qualifying and being benched by D.C. United), that was definitely the reason why it was hurting me so much,” Hamid said of the handful of matches he spent serving as D.C. United’s back-up goalkeeper. “That’s a learning experience. It made me mentally stronger and it’s become my motivation to get back to the national team.”

Hamid credited his connections with the national team for helping him cope with the first real adversity of his young career.

“It definitely helped me a lot, talking to (Howard) and (US national team goalkeeper coach) Chris Woods definitely helped me a lot through that whole process,” Hamid said. “The knowledge I was able to gain from them was instrumental to me getting back in goal. They’ve been through situations like that, so they knew how I should react and I’m thankful to have them in my corner.”

Howard, for one, counts himself as a big fan of Hamid’s game, and sees a lot of himself in the young netminder.

“When we’re in training, I’ll see him do certain things and act a certain way and I just can’t help but be reminded of me at that age,” Howard told FOX Soccer last week in Guatemala. “He has all the talent in the world and it’s up to him to put in the work to make the most of it.”

Hamid had already begun working his way back when Klinsmann called in his training camp in May, but the US coach decided to let the young goalkeeper stay with D.C. United and work on his game. While the decision probably had more to do with wanting to give Hamid some consistency with his club, it didn’t make it any less difficult for a player who had become a regular part of the national team set-up.

“When I didn’t get that call of course it hurt, but that’s motivation,” Hamid said. “I’m still young, I want to keep pushing myself. I have a long career ahead of me, god willing, and hopefully there’s plenty of other chances to be called in.”

Hamid is on the right track. Olsen sees a more mature player who has had to grow up fast during a trying year. It may be some time before he is back in the national team fold, but with the knowledge gained from adversity, Hamid should be better equipped the next time Klinsmann comes calling.

“Some lows can help you realize stuff about yourself,” Hamid said. “You start to think about things and realize that maybe you should change this or that about your life.

“I made a lot of changes to my life off the field and it’s paying off right now.”

This Week’s Best in MLS

Player of the Week- Fabian Espindola: The Real Salt Lake striker made easy work of the Chivas USA defense, scoring a pair of goals in RSL’s 3-0 victory at Home Depot Center on Saturday. He headed home his first goal on a perfectly-timed run, then added a beautiful second goal to help RSL extend their lead atop the Western Conference to five points.

Rookie of the Week- Andrew Wenger: Starting as the target striker in Montreal’s 4-5-1, Wenger showed why the Impact made him the No. 1 pick in the 2012 MLS Draft by finishing off the third of Montreal’s four goals in a 4-1 romp over 10-man Seattle. Wenger raced onto a Patrice Bernier pass and beat Bryan Meredith to his near post for his second goal of the season.

Team of the Week- Chicago Fire: Playing a Red Bulls team that hadn’t lost an MLS match since April, the Fire ran roughshod over New York’s defense, rattling off three goals (really four if not for a seriously bad no-goal call) in a 3-1 romp over the Red Bulls on Sunday. The victory moved the Fire into sole possession of fourth place in the East.


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