It was getting late in the tilt between D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening, and goalkeeper Bill Hamid hadn't had much to do for 90 minutes. Sure, he cut out a couple of crosses, and got a slight touch to a Will Bruin shot early in the second half to push it off the post. But it looked like United would get out of Houston with a point without needing anything spectacular from Hamid.
The Black-and-Red managed the point in a 0-0 draw with the Dynamo, but by the sound of the final whistle, it was Hamid who once again provided the difference, making two huge saves in stoppage time to keep his second clean sheet on the season.
"Bill makes [two] great saves in the end there," United manager Ben Olsen said after the game. "I expect greatness all the time. It doesn't surprise me."
A timid affair for most of the game, it seemed like a point each for both teams would be a fair result. The first half barely resembled an actual soccer game, and it wasn't until early in the second half that there was a shot on target, and even that came from a set piece by United.
But then came the 93rd minute, and Hamid stood on his head with two fantastic saves to ensure that United held on to a valuable point on the road. First, after United failed to deal with a cross into the box properly, Mauro Manotas hit a bouncing half volley that forced Hamid to quickly dive to his right to push the ball out for a corner.
"Big game Bill. He makes saves when we need him," said center back Bobby Boswell. "It can be a tough night for us if we give up a late goal, and for him to pull some of those out, it's world class."
The second miraculous save came moments later, from the corner from the first save. Cristian Maidana whipped in the corner, finding center back Raul Rodriguez, who had headed just over from a corner in the first half. Rodriguez did everything you want to do with a header, hitting it down from eight yards out.
And on another keeper, it might have just bounced through the legs, and into the back of the net for a game winner. But Hamid was quick enough to react to save the header with his left foot, kicking the ball up in the air to keep Rodriguez from winning the game. The ball pinged to another Dynamo player, but David Horst blazed a volley over the bar with the final kick of the game.
"He's a player that raises the team. He's very important for the team, for the locker room," said midfielder Marcelo Sarvas. "And of course, in this game, he's able to make the save, and keep us in the game."
For Hamid, one of the reasons why United managed to get the point, in addition to his last minute heroics, was United's ability to contain the aforementioned Bruin. Over the course of his career, Bruin has scored 9 of his 49 league goals against the Black-and-Red. But on Saturday night, his impact was limited, as they half volley that Hamid pushed off the post from outside the box was the closest Bruin came to scoring.
"We made it difficult on Bruin. The backline did extremely well dealing with him," said Hamid after the game. "He's a lot to handle. He's known around this league to bounce off of center backs. He's a big boy, you don't see it until you're close to him. Kofi [Opare] and Bobby [Boswell] dealt with him extremely well."
In his third game back from injury this season, Hamid has quickly regained the form that won him the 2014 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, and kept United in so many games in 2015. Although he would have been a near certainty to have been with the USA during the Copa America had he not had the offseason knee surgery, missing out on that opportunity made his eventual comeback much easier, according to the twice capped international.
"I wanted to get back as soon as possible and stake whatever claim I could for the Copa America roster," said Hamid. "When that didn't happen, I sat back and felt like a lot of bricks were off my shoulders. I'm happy to be back in goal, and I'm trying to do my best."