WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this month, D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was asked about his chance of earning a national team recall after Tim Howard's back injury ruled him out of the team's March qualifiers.
Hamid preferred not to answer, simply stating the matter was “in God's hands.”
He had one final chance to impress Jurgen Klinsmann and in a nationally televised match last Saturday. He did just that, making several highlight-reel saves against the Red Bulls en route to a MLS Player of the Week award.
Two days later, the U.S. roster came out. Sean Johnson made the squad; Hamid did not.
In his first game since missing out on the U.S. roster, the 22-year-old displayed many of the attributes that have seen him described as the next great American goalkeeper. He also showed why he was in the nation's capital Saturday afternoon, and not preparing to fly to Mexico City.
Hamid made a litany of impressive saves against the Columbus Crew, none more so than a remarkable double stop in the second half that denied two point-blank chances. However, for the first time this season, the old Bill showed up.
That Bill came out for an early set piece and flapped at air, only grabbing the ball when he picked it out of the back of his net. In the second half, Hamid spilled a free kick that landed in his bread basket. When his defense failed to clear, Ben Speas harshly punished the home side.
Final score: Columbus 2, D.C. United 1.
Following the game, head coach Ben Olsen refused to blame his goalkeeper, saying "I'll have to look at them. I only saw them once," when asked if Hamid was to blame for the two Crew goals.
“We're asking a lot of Bill Hamid right now,” Olsen said. “He's a monster and I wish I didn't have to see him make so many great saves.”
True enough. With Dejan Jakovic on international duty, a makeshift back line allowed an alarming 17 shots on goal, 15 of which Hamid kept out, some in spectacular fashion.
But the best goalkeepers are usually judged not by the goals they keep out, but by those they let in. Hamid seems to be aware of that.
“I'm not too happy with the two goals,” he said when asked to evaluate his performance. “I should have stayed on the first one and should have came and punched the second one. So for that I apologize to my teammates.”
Given his performance, an apology may not have entirely been necessary, but for a young goalkeeper, it was a sign of his growing maturity – and of the high expectations he's placed on himself.
“I think his positives are by far outweighing his negatives,” Olsen said. “He's the last of my concerns right now.”
As far as United goes, Olsen will indeed have bigger worries. A fragile defense, and early-season injuries to John Thorrington and Nick DeLeon chief among them.
For Hamid though -- a player with the ability and ambition to reach lofty heights -- the rough edges will require some smoothing out. If he's able to do that, nobody, God or Klinsmann included, will be able to deny him.