Sporting a five mile smile, surrounded by General Manager Dave Kasper and Head Coach Ben Olsen, and with his family in attendance, Bill Hamid was re-introduced to the D.C. United on Friday afternoon. Hamid, the club leader in appearances for a goalkeeper and shutouts, returns to the Black-and-Red after a short stint in Denmark with FC Midtjylland, in which he only made three appearances for the Danish champions.
But it was all smiles on Friday, Hamid got to check out Audi Field, where he’ll undoubtedly make his first appearance for United in nearly a year sometime in the near future.
“The boss is back,” Kasper said during the press conference.
Though United were unable to retain Hamid last year, losing him at the end of his contract to Midtjylland, they didn’t lose contact with their first-ever homegrown signing. Kasper kept in touch with Hamid, which eventually led to Hamid asking the GM if there was a way to bring him back to the club.
“I’m thankful to the club, for caring about me, and always keeping up to date with what was going on with me,” said Hamid.
“Bill and I have stayed in regular contact since he left for Denmark, once a month, just checking in on Bill, seeing how he’s doing,” added Kasper. “There was a different text that came across six weeks ago or so. ‘I’m not in a good situation here, can we explore the opportunity of bringing me back.’”
Goalkeeper wasn’t the biggest need for United during this transfer window, which was one of the hurdles that the sides had to clear to bring Hamid back. David Ousted, the starter for most of the season, was brought in after Hamid’s departure. Steve Clark joined last August, and started the last five games of the season, as Hamid finalized his move to Denmark.
Those two have years of experience at the MLS level, they haven’t exactly shone for United during this year’s campaign. However, once Hamid and Midtjylland agreed that it was in his best interest to move elsewhere to find playing time, United were able to make the move happen, bringing Hamid back for the rest of this year, and the duration of the 2019 season.
“I had a conversation with FC Midtjylland,” said Hamid, after the end of the preseason in Denmark. “When I sat down with the coach, the coach let me know what he was going with. I said okay, I think I need to find a solution where I’m going to be playing regularly. To me that’s important. He agreed, and that’s when I started exploring options.”
Hamid landed back somewhere where he is comfortable, somewhere where he knows the league, and most of the players and staff at the club. That didn’t stop the Annandale native from exploring options in all corners of the world though.
“I explored every option possible. It wasn’t only Europe, it wasn’t only MLS,” said Hamid. “It was also some Asian teams as well.”
In the end, the allure of coming back to the club he grew up with was just too much.
“He loves this place, he loves me. Can’t stay away,” joked Olsen during the press conference. “It’s a great day to have Bill back with the club that he loves the most, the club he grew up with.”
Hamid also harbors national team aspirations, but stressed how he needed to be playing regularly to get back into the picture and add to his total of 6 caps. He has earned four caps since last summer, but his most recent one, a 2-1 loss to Ireland, showed that the lack of games in Denmark was starting to tell.
“For a player with aspirations of being a part of the national team, and with the expectation of being a national team player, you have to play regularly,” Hamid said during the press conference.
He’ll have to fight for time with United, but it would not be surprising to see him manning the goal in due time at Audi Field, given how unconvincing United’s play in goal has been this year.
Hamid hasn’t quite given up all hopes of a successful European stint, but also said that despite the issues in getting playing time in Denmark, that he learned a great deal with FC Midtjylland.
“It was a different environment. I got away from home for a little bit. Got to learn a little bit about myself off the field” Hamid said in response to a question from B&RU. “That was the biggest thing. Being without my family, being without my friends, how to make new friends in a different environment, and just be open to new challenges.”
A year and a half ago, Hamid stepped up to the microphone at the ground-breaking event for Audi Field and gave a speech, talking about how much the club meant to him, how much the stadium would mean to him, and to all the kids in the area who might one day grow up to follow in his footsteps as a United homegrown signing.
That same sort of emotion shone through on Friday. He wasn’t there at the opening of Audi Field last month, but the moment when he finally steps on the field, as part of the starting lineup for United at their new stadium, will mean the world for United’s new number 24.
“If and when I get the opportunity to step on the field, and represent this club, it’s going to be hard to hold back certain emotions,” said Hamid. “It’s going to mean a lot to me. I care a lot about D.C. United.”