One of the biggest stories for D.C. United fans so far this season has been Ben Olsen & Co.'s policy of riding the hot hand. The assumed starting goalkeeper for most of the MLS season this year, Bill Hamid, has only logged 90 out of a possible 900 minutes so far. When Hamid left the nation's capital for the train-wreck that was the USMNT Olympic qualifying tournament, backup keep Joe Willis took the field and stringed together some quality games between the pipes that ended up keeping Hamid on the bench, even after recovering from a minor leg injury upon returning to the team.
But now, here we are in May and the heir to Tim Howard's throne appointed by Jurgen Klinsmann himself, isn't playing. Take a quick gander through and you can see that Hamid still has a love for EPL side West Bromwich Albion, who Hamid spent some time with during the offseason on a training trial. Not many people realize this, but D.C. almost didn't sign Hamid at all; Hamid was linked to a move to Scottish supergiants Celtic F.C. So the concept of Hamid moving on across the pond isn't a strange one and its one that D.C. United fans have had on the back of their minds for a while. So what goes into play when selling a player overseas? What different factors goes into the decision? Let's investigate after the jump.
First off, there's always the possibility that Hamid gets another shot, performs as well as we all know he can, and holds onto the starting spot with an iron grip. For the purpose of this game of "what if?", lets assume Willis holds onto the starting position.
Hamid could put in a transfer request during the summer window or at the end of the 2012 season, forcing the front office's hand and trying to get the best deal they can get for the 21 year old. I wouldn't necessarily blame Hamid either; the folks at West Brom were impressed with Hamid, commenting that it's impressing the 21-year old had broken onto the national team already and that "he's very athletic". I think WBA would love to sign Hamid and the finances wouldn't be a problem for the top-flight side. What could be a problem for United, however, is the fact that Hamid isn't playing regularly. If Hamid had returned from Olympic qualifying and started every game since, putting in consistently great saves and notching several shut-outs, his transfer price could be sky high. Since he's been sitting on the bench though, if nothing changes, his perceived value has got to go down at least some. If a move to Europe is definitely on the horizon for Hamid, then ideally it would be after a Goalkeeper of the Year season or something close to it.
Then there's always the possibility that the D.C. front office decide that they're sitting on a potential gold mine and he's sitting on the bench. Might as well try to move him and cash in on his transfer fee. Since the team would be electing to sell instead of being forced to sell by the player in this situation, they could probably get a higher fee. That kind of move would show a lot of faith in Joe Willis, who showed he wasn't infallible against Houston by essentially letting in a second goal by Will Bruin. Not to say that Hamid is perfect, but he has commanded more trust from the fans then Willis has.
Personally, I attribute Willis' success to the D.C. back line, a much needed improvement from the 2011 squad. Hamid has only played one game with offseason additions Emiliano Dudar and Robbie Russell. While Willis has made some great saves, we have no idea if Hamid would make the same saves. One thing we do know - Jurgen Klinsmann and the rest of the USMNT coaching staff have seen something in Hamid that they like and they want around. Maybe I'm naive, but he's good enough for the national team, he's good enough for D.C. United.
Granted, this is all over-analysis and speculation. We all know that Olsen has a lot of choices he needs to makes regarding the D.C. Starting XI. But how long with a national team member accept a role on the bench? I don't see Hamid going anywhere until the end of the season, if he goes anywhere at all. Now, we also have to worry about keeping Joe Willis, who has proved he's maybe the best "backup" goalkeeper in the league. Willis could very well be a sure starter at another MLS club. He's had a taste of the big time and if Hamid does retake his starting role we could see Willis opt for an offseason move to a team that can give him what he wants - 34 starts in a season. Here's to keeping both for years to come.