WASHINGTON — Losing a starting position is a tough pill to swallow for any professional. But D.C. United ‘keeper Bill Hamid, who went from representing his country to finding himself on the bench for his club, is doing his best to stay positive.
SAVE: Hamid wonder stop vs. Sporting
Hamid last played a competitive game against El Salvador in the Olympic qualifying tournament. But as he dealt with the disappointment of not qualifying for the Olympics and picking up an injury to boot, he came back to D.C. to find that Joe Willis had secured the starting spot after successful performances in his absence.
“It’s frustrating when you’re playing well, and you’re hoping to get games,” Hamid told MLSsoccer.com. “When you go away with the national team and come back, and the team is playing extremely well, and everything is gelling, and everything is looking fine, you understand why the coach won’t change the lineup.”
Hamid has featured just once this season for United, before joining the U23 side for the qualifying tournament. In the opening game of the season, the 21-year-old made several critical saves against Sporting Kansas City, before being left helpless on C.J. Sapong’s stoppage time winner in a 1-0 game.
But since Hamid left, United have gone on a six-game unbeaten run during which the team has conceded just four goals. Willis has done well, making several crucial saves during the streak. When Hamid returned to United nursing an ankle injury, Willis kept the number-one job without question.
Hamid is now recovered, though, and for the past three games has been available for selection. Yet coach Ben Olsen has stuck with Willis, and the side has picked up seven of a possible nine points. And after Sunday's win over the New York Red Bulls, Olsen admitted that Willis is the starter for now.
Hamid has looked to goalkeeper coach Pat Onstad for advice during his tough stretch. Onstad had a long conversation with Hamid after Wednesday’s practice, providing updates on the situation and reassuring Hamid about his performances in practice.
“I have a coach who’s played the game for 20-plus years, every little piece of advice I can take from [Onstad], I’m going to cherish it,” Hamid said.
For any professional, going from a starter to a backup stings. Sometimes it is performance related, but sometimes it's merely circumstantial.
“I haven’t lost my job,” Hamid said. “It’s just that the team is playing extremely well, and that’s what it is.”