Bill Hamid, focused on health, aims to work his way back into USMNT picture

WASHINGTON –Bill Hamid may remember 2016 as the year he learned how to overcome the nagging injuries that plagued his early career.

There’s still time to make major progress with club and country, as well.

The D.C. United goalkeeper approaches Sunday’s match at the New York Red Bulls (1 pm ET; ESPN) having started 14 of 15 league matches since returning from knee surgery in late May.

That’s his most consistent stretch since making 21 consecutive league and playoff starts to close the 2014 campaign. And the timing couldn’t be better, as United push for the playoffs and Hamid aims to work his way back into the US national team picture ahead of the final stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, which starts in November.

“Those little hiccups that I was having in the past, I can tell since I’ve come back, it’s much less than what it’s been,” says Hamid, who credits increased attention to his physical health. “I think it’s working well right now, because I feel good.”

One part of Hamid’s revamped regimen is simply being more diligent about post-match stretching, massages and other exercises all players go through.

But the 25-year-old D.C. United academy product has also delved into cryotherapy, the practice of exposing one’s body to sub-zero temperatures to aid muscle recovery. He is also wearing gear to help protect against the constant impact that comes with being a goalkeeper.

“You’re diving around and your body takes a beating,” says Hamid, who has also missed time with hand and foot injuries in the past. “All the loading. Your back, your hips, your knees. It’s tough.”

With Hamid healthy, United had gone six matches unbeaten before a dramatic 3-2 loss at New York City FC on Sept. 1. Continuing that individual and collective form could help Hamid get back into Klinsmann’s fold as the US play a pair of friendlies in October and begin Hexagonal play in November.

Hamid hasn’t spoken to Klinsmann since January, when his injury kept him out of the national team’s annual winter camp. He did connect with Yanks goalkeeping coach Russell Payne just before his MLS return in May.

“They want to see the next level out of you,” Hamid said. “I understand that. It’s been belted into my head since 2011.”

Between increased attention to his health, a renewed focus on video study with goalkeeper coach Zach Thornton, and a consistent run of matches, Hamid believes he’s getting closer.

“We make sure that we’re doing everything possible for me to perform at a high level to help this team, No. 1, and No. 2, for me to get back on the national team,” Hamid said of his work with Thornton.

“You’ve just got to stay the course, because they’re watching,” he said of the US coaching staff. “They see the games, they see the highlights, they’re able to see every single touch, every single pass that I do. I’m prepared for that.”