WASHINGTON – Bill Hamid’s future looks as bright as any goalkeeper’s in Major League Soccer.
Rising from the D.C. United youth academy to sign a senior contract last year, the 20-year-old promptly jumped on the fast track this past season, challenging veteran Troy Perkins for the top job and showing ample ability with 20 saves and a 1.25 goals-against average in eight league starts. Furthermore, his presence and promise have drawn comparisons to US national team stalwart Tim Howard, an MLS alum presently performing at the top echelons of the English game.
But a chronic shoulder problem led to season-ending surgery on Sept. 16, and Hamid has the keen attention of club leaders this winter as he works to complete his rehabilitation and prove that he’s ready to take the next step in his career.
“In our minds, this was going to be a real test for Bill,” club president Kevin Payne told The Washington Post at the end of the regular season, laying down a marker for the young netminder. "He's a young man and hasn't always been as professional as he needed to be. He's young and had bad habits off the field, his dietary habits, things of those nature. But he has shown, in the ways he has embraced the rehab, that he wants to be very serious about his profession.”
Hamid accepts the reality of those expectations, and the respect they convey. He admits that he spent much of 2010 over his ideal playing weight, and hopes to gain a bit more quickness by dropping those extra pounds with tough offseason conditioning.
[inline_node:307634]“The struggle right now is the weight,” Hamid said. “Not having the everyday grind, it’s tough to keep the weight down. But I’m working as hard as possible and the goal is to come in as slim as possible – looking at, like, 215, 220 [pounds] next year – and come in flying.”
United goalkeepers coach Mark Simpson drove Hamid hard almost from the moment the youngster joined the senior squad in 2009, and those lessons were soon driven home by the lively battle with Perkins for playing time.
“I feel extremely pushed and, honestly, I wouldn’t want to be in a situation where I wasn’t pushed,” said Hamid. “I feel pressure from every single angle on me right now and it’s all motivation to work as hard as possible.”
Simpson will not return to head coach Ben Olsen’s staff next season, so Hamid and Perkins will be trained and evaluated by a new face in 2011. That portends another wide-open competition for the starting job and Hamid is confident that his twice-daily workout regimen will have him ready for a strong preseason.
“See, with me, it’s not necessarily being a workaholic so people can see – it’s what you do behind closed doors, when people aren’t looking, that matters,” he said. “Every single day I am at a weight room … working out, doing something else after a training session, or during weekends. That’s what people don’t see, but it shows on the field.”
Hamid underwent surgery to repair a tear in his labrum, the important cartilage that enables the shoulder socket to function properly. That fix severely restricted his range of motion, and he’s now entered what he calls “the grind time” of his recovery: long hours of uncomfortable exercises to restore strength and flexibility.
It also offers ample time for personal contemplation.
“I have a heart rate monitor so [United’s trainers] know how hard I’m working,” he explained. “But it’s a lot of alone time right now, a lot of time to reflect right now on what I need to do … what I need to change, what I need to do to come back next year stronger and better.”