We entered the 2011 season with the thought that Bill Hamid and Steve Cronin would be competing for the starting goalkeeper position on the D.C. United roster. That hasn't happened.
What changed? Well both were injured for the first several matches of the season. We knew going into the season that Hamid might not be ready for Week 1 after recovering from surgery, so Cronin was supposed to be the starter early on, with Hamid competing when he was ready. But a wrist injury to Cronin during preseason training forced assistant coach Pat Onstad back into action.
Hamid became the rightful starter once he was fully fit, and that's the way its been for the last 14 matches.
With Hamid earning a clean sheet on Saturday against the high-scoring New York Red Bulls, there doesn't seem to be any reason to revoke the starting title from him, even just temporarily. Rather, it seems that Hamid could be in line to play every single minute for United the remainder of the season, barring injury or suspension. This is obviously a great opportunity for the young goalkeeper with the lofty goal of being a future national team starter. He'll continue to grow with time. This is good news for Hamid, for United, and for the entire United States.
But what about Cronin? Sure, he'll probably play a half next week in the friendly against Everton, but with United ejected from the U.S. Open Cup in the preliminary rounds, Cronin may not play a single meaningful game this season. The most meaningful game he'll play is the Reserve League Final, if there even is such a thing.
Is it fair to brush Cronin aside so easily? Well, yes actually. I'm in favor of settling these sorts of things on the practice field. If Hamid is outperforming Cronin during the team's training sessions, and if he's holding his own when it really counts (which is clearly the case) he should continue to start for D.C.