D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid is swimming in frequent-flyer miles. He just hasn't had much time to use them.
Hamid left Washington shortly after the end of his club's 2013 campaign to train with Premiere League side West Bromwich Albion, then accompanied United on their Indonesian tour. After being called into the US national team's January camp, Hamid headed straight for Florida, joining D.C. in Bradenton for preseason activities just last week.
In short, he’s been all over the place.
"Yeah, not much time to relax this winter," Hamid told MLSsoccer.com by phone with a laugh over the weekend. "But it’s all good for me. It’s all positive steps that I want to take forward in my growth and learning as a goalkeeper. Continuing to work – especially going into this year – was very vital for me."
Hamid's stint at West Brom was the second time in as many years that he's trained with the EPL side. It's a chance only a handful of MLS players get, and one the Homegrown product values greatly.
"Their training is first-class," Hamid said. "When I heard I was going to get the chance to go back there, I was delighted. Honestly, the pace of the game [in Europe] is different – it’s much faster, they shoot the ball harder, they’re smarter. Technically they can pull off some amazing things."
“I just wanted to learn,” he added. “I wanted to go there and learn and do my best, showcase myself and make myself better."
His time for the national team, however, was perhaps even more valuable. Hamid – who's quickly becoming a regular call-up for Jurgen Klinsmann and company – is among the young players jostling to be next in line for the US goalkeeping throne.
Despite a handful of call-ups, however, he hasn't quite gotten used to the perception that he might be the next Tim Howard or Brad Guzan.
"I never expected to make it this far when I was a kid. I just played soccer, had fun with it,” he said. “Now that I’m here in the situation, I get put in the same sentence as those guys, get called in by the same coach as they do, I’m representing my country. For me, it's very special."
With the offseason nearly behind him, Hamid can get to the business at hand: erasing United's dreadful 2013 campaign. While many United players speak of wiping the slate clean completely, Hamid has a different approach.
"In a sense, you've got to let it go and forget about it, but at the same time you have to have it in the back of your mind that you’ve been through that and you don’t want to have that feeling again,” he said.
"I think everyone is going to be in camp and be positive. That’s the point. You can’t think negatively. It’s a big change, we have a lot of new faces. Even though it’s early, we've got to find the right gel as quickly as possible. As long as we have the faith that’s going to happen, we’ll be OK."