Sporting Kansas City's Jimmy Nielsen advises DC United goalkeeper Bill Hamid to "stay here"

WASHINGTON — When Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen looked across the field on Sunday, he said he saw a counterpart with enormous potential in D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

But the 35-year-old Dane said that doesn't mean the 22-year-old American should be eager to leave the MLS for Europe.

“Stay here,” Nielsen said, when asked what advice he would give Hamid. “This league is a great league for him right now. He should stay here three, four, five years and then see what else could bring. I bet if he stays the next three, four, five years, he will probably stay in this league, because this league is growing and growing and growing."

Hamid is among four MLS-based goalkeepers included in Jurgen Klinsmann's 29-player roster for the United States' upcoming friendlies against Belgium and Germany, followed by thee June World Cup qualifiers. He also made four appearances last year during the US U-23s' failed Olympic qualifying attempt in 2012, joining Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson on that roster.

Nielsen, who has suited up but never made an appearance for his country's full national team, knows a little bit about trying to break through in a nation with excellent goalkeeping depth.

A full professional since age 18, he played 28 games between Denmark's U-19 and U-21 teams in the latter portion of the 1990s. He later made five appearances for a national side that only included domestically based players. And he won the Danish league's Goalkeeper of the Year honors in 1998 and 2004, a stretch during which only one other Dane won the award.

But with Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel and Stoke City's Thomas Sorensen commanding the top goalkeeping spot for more than two decades, making an international imprint was always going to be difficult.

“I was No. 2 for a few years,” Nielsen said. “You know, it just never happened.”

Like Schmeichel and Sorensen, Nielsen twice attempted an English career, spending a year each at Millwall and Leicester City, but he never made a first-team appearance at either club. Perhaps partly because of that experience, Nielsen suggested a longer stay in MLS might make more sense for Hamid developmentally.

“He just needs to play games after games after games after games after games, and get out there and make the mistakes and learn from the mistakes,” Nielsen said. “I think every time we play them, he's playing a hell of a game.”

Hamid made a couple crucial stops in Sunday's 1-1 draw against Kansas City, including a late dive to his lower left to deny Claudio Bieler, and an earlier foot save off Graham Zusi's first-half effort. It's those kinds of reflex saves that make Nielsen, and a lot of others, take notice.

“He's a lot more athletic than I am,” Nielsen said. “He's more like the modern goalkeeper [and I'm] more the old-school goalkeeper. But I think he is doing a great job. I think he is one of the most talented goalkeepers I've seen in this country. He's got a hell of a future in front of him.”