After enduring the United States’ Olympic qualifying disappointment, suffering an ankle injury and briefly losing his starting job with D.C. United, goalkeeper Bill Hamid has quietly put together a stellar campaign.
Although Hamid missing 10 games has slowed him in statistical categories such as saves and shutouts, he leads MLS in save percentage (78) and is third in the league in goals against average (1.04, trailing Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen and Seattle’s Michael Gspurning).
My story in Friday’s paper examined Hamid’s form of late and his aspirations with the U.S. national team. One facet I was only able to briefly mention was Hamid’s relationship with Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, his teammate in Olympic qualifying.
“Sean’s a great guy,” Hamid said. “Me and Sean text, and we’ve talked a few times since, and I’m happy for the way he’s played. And both teams are in the playoff hunt, so it shows a lot of teams in this league — young goalkeepers, they give some a chance but some people don’t. We want to prove to those people that are nonbelievers that young goalkeepers are the way to go. We’re lively, we have the skill, we have the talent, we have the drive. You’ve just got to give us a chance and we’ll shine.”
Added assistant coach Pat Onstad: “Him and Sean are texting each other on a daily basis. I’m not sure how that one works. It’s a funny fraternity. … Unless you’ve played that position, it’s a tough one to explain. So I think you need that support, and goalies do support one another in this league and it’s nice to see.”
With a win Saturday at Toronto FC (1 p.m., CSN), United would move at least into third place in the Eastern Conference, and possibly even a three-way tie for second (should the New York Red Bulls and Chicago Fire play to a draw).
And United could essentially clinch a playoff berth with a win and Columbus loss to Kansas City, as that would put D.C. up six points with two games to go, and United have a virtually insurmountable lead (currently nine) in the goals for tiebreaker.
So how much time do United players spend contemplating such scenarios?
“Not much, really,” midfielder Perry Kitchen said. “We’re still in control of where we can take this thing.”
— Center back Emiliano Dudar (knee bone bruise), striker Long Tan (ankle sprain) and midfielder Raphael Augusto (quadriceps strain) are listed as out for Saturday’s game.
— Center back Dejan Jakovic (Canada) and striker Hamdi Salihi (Albania) will report for World Cup qualifiers after United’s match against Toronto. They will not miss any games with D.C.
— The referee for Saturday’s match will be Armando Villarreal. United will be dressed in all black while Toronto will be in all red.