As the 2013 MLS season approaches, we're counting down the days to March 2 and running the proverbial rule over each player on D.C. United's roster. Today's subject: starting GK and U.S. international Bill Hamid.
Just a few days ago, Andy Najar became the first MLS homegrown player to be sold abroad - and to a perennial Champions League team, no less. It was almost enough to make us momentarily forget D.C. United's first ever homegrown signing, Bill Hamid. You know, the guy who had the best saves percentage in MLS last year. The 22-year-old with a better goals against average than Nick Rimando, Tally Hall or Josh Saunders (not to mention Sean Johnson - not that I'm pushing any agenda there). The guy who holds the record for the youngest goalkeeper to record a win in Major League Soccer history.
Not that Hamid is a big deal or anything. But we should think about going into the 2013 season with the understanding that we may not have Bill between the pipes any more at this point next year. A young goalkeeper with his athleticism, experience and ability is going to be very tempting for clubs in Europe. If he manages to start the season strong, Hamid might get called into the USMNT for the Gold Cup, providing caps and exposure that increases the odds a club or three will come a-calling sometime before the Jan. 31, 2014 end of next year's European winter transfer window.
So let's focus on the present and appreciate what we have. And that's a damn good MLS goalkeeper who has grown significantly each of the three full years he's spent as a member of D.C. United's first team. Hamid has always been a freak shot-stopper, and it's only gotten stronger. His control of his box and his decision-making on whether to come for a cross has improved noticeably. He's gotten better at helping his defense stay organized. The biggest area that needs improvement is defending breakaways without hurling his 6'3" frame at the attacker and seeing a red card - an event that, while rare, is still too frequent.
Nevertheless, Hamid's ceiling remains out-of-sight, and his growth hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. Even after major setbacks he steps his game up even more. Failed to qualify for the Olympics? No problem. He responded with the best season of his career.
So our question for today is really two fold: How far will Hamid's game grow this year - is he a potential all-star or Best XI selection or could he regress? Secondarily, will he still be in goal for United come First Kick 2014?