SANDY, Utah – D.C. United won their 13th trophy on Tuesday night, and their first since 2008. They won it with defense, with opportunism and with a bit of blood-and-thunder tackling in the midfield when opportunities presented.
They won it with a shutout, 1-0 on the road at Real Salt Lake.
And they won it with Bill Hamid in goal. Hamid is 22 years old, he’s represented his country at every level of the US set-up, and he’s been a D.C. United fan since 1996.
“You know I’ve been following the club since I was a youth,” Hamid told reporters afterward, amidst the celebratory beer shower in the victorious locker room. “I’ve been coming to games – my father [had] been raising money to come to the games when I was young, me and my cousins. Always supported – [Marco] Etcheverry and Eddie Pope, Raúl [Díaz Arce], all those guys…
“And now to win a trophy? To be a part of history? It’s amazing feeling.”
Hamid is steeped in D.C. United lore, and for that reason he’s worn the tribulations of this year’s lamentable regular season as a double-wound: one as a player, a building-block who was supposed to backstop this team at least to the Eastern Conference Championship again.
The other is as a fan, as someone who wants to see his beloved Black-and-Red back atop the table, as they were when he was falling in love with his hometown club.
“Those legends, they’ve done great things for this league. They’ve done amazing things,” Hamid said. “But now we know. We have that belief. We know that we can go into any environment and get a win.”
Hamid’s performance was a big reason for that win, coming up with several big saves – most of them late. His best was probably in the 80th minute, when he was quick off his line to shut down RSL sniper Álvaro Saborío inside the six.
Then, just seconds before the final whistle, Hamid made himself big again, pushing a sharp Saborío header off the crossbar and away from danger.
They were the type of plays that have gone against D.C. all year, the “game of inches” that has been so cruel to a team that should be so, so much better than their record.
And now, they are. They have the trophy to prove it.
“It’s been a lot of ups and downs this season, it’s been a very emotional year for all of us,” Hamid explained. “We were underdogs, nobody expected us to win this game, but we just came in and won it at RSL – a difficult place to play, a great team, that possibly plays the best football in the league.
“We believe now. Now we know.”