D.C. United celebrated a happy homecoming at Audi Field on Friday, as Homegrown product and 2014 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Bill Hamid was officially welcomed back to the club after the agreement of a year-and-a-half loan from his Danish club FC Midtjylland.
Featured at an introductory press conference with D.C.’s other deadline-day acquisition, left back Vytas, Hamid explained why he returned to his hometown club just nine months after playing out his contract and departing for Europe – and United’s technical staff underlined why they were so eager to have him.
“I’m thankful to the club for caring about me and always keeping up to date with what’s going on with me. And I’ve always kept up to date with what’s going on here,” said Hamid, revealing that he’d stayed in regular contact with D.C. general manager and VP of soccer operations Dave Kasper while in Denmark, and often set his alarm for the wee hours to watch United’s matches live despite the time difference.
Hamid also acknowledged that his U.S. national team ambitions drove him to seek out a better opportunity at consistent match action.
“I care a lot about D.C. United and obviously I wasn't playing regularly at Midtjylland – I only got, I think three games there altogether,” he noted. “So for a player with the aspirations of being regularly a part of the national team, and with the expectation of being a national team player, you have to play regularly.
“So I spoke to [Midtjylland] a few weeks ago, maybe a month ago, and they agreed with my agent that, with the talent that I have, that I needed to play. They wanted to keep a hold of me, but somehow we figured out a way to get this deal done and now it’s all about coming here, earning the spot back, showing what I can do, what I’m capable of, and hopefully making the group as a unit better.”
United were disappointed to lose Hamid last year and benched him in the latter stages of the campaign as they sought to sort out his replacement. There was no sign of hard feelings on Friday, however.
“We worked pretty hard to retain Bill, but ever since we’ve known Bill he’s wanted to test the waters in Europe and it was very important that he did that,” said Kasper. “But now that he’s back, it does feel like there’s a missing piece that’s now connected. So we’re very pleased.
“The boss is back.”
A nimble shotstopper and commanding presence in the penalty box, Hamid has proven one of MLS’s elite ‘keepers when in top form, though he struggled to maintain that level over the past two years as injury troubles took their toll.
Head coach Ben Olsen said he believes the Annandale, Virginia product can return to his previous heights in the months ahead, though he’ll have to earn United’s starting role back from current incumbent David Ousted.
“It’s a great day, it really is, to have Bill back with the club that he loves the most, the club he grew up with,” said head coach Ben Olsen. “It’s a special day, for the staff, for the fans, this community, I know [for] his family. It’s a day to celebrate, and then tomorrow, it’s a day to get to work. I think he knows that. It’s been an up-and-down year and a half for Bill and he wants to prove that he’s the goalkeeper he was a year and a half ago. I know he is, he knows he is, and he’s willing to put the work in, get the spot back and take us to where we want to be.
“He’s one of the best goalkeepers this league has ever seen, and we’re excited to have him.”