WASHINGTON – Looking to bolster his squad ahead of an intimidating showdown with global powerhouse Brazil on Tuesday evening (8 pm ET, ESPN2, UniMas, UDN), US national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann called in a trio of additions to his roster: Stanford University standout Jordan Morris, Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley and Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
Morris, Altidore and Johnson have all positively contributed to their national side in the past; all three seem worthy of the call-up. But given the current state of the USMNT’s goalkeeping pool – one where Tim Howard and Brad Guzan are battling for the top spot and Johnson, D.C. United ‘keeper Bill Hamid and, more recently, Club Leon's William Yarborough are all vying for the No. 3 slot – some have wondered why Hamid didn’t get a nod.
The homegrown ‘keeper has only recently returned to form after battling a series of injuries to his finger, foot and knee over the past several months, injuries that culminated in hand and knee operations in mid-July. After returning to service, he was forced out again several weeks ago after a flare-up of that same knee. He was on the preliminary roster for this summer’s Gold Cup, but hopes of making the 23-man were dashed by those injuries.
After a lively United training session on Tuesday, Olsen reflected on Hamid’s season-long battle and what it’s meant for his national team aspirations.
"I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be in the plans with the national team,” said Olsen, a former USMNTer who visited a national team training session in D.C. last week. "He’s had a knee operation. He had a situation in his knee we had to sort out. He’s been playing through pain most of the year before that surgery. He came back, because he’s a competitor, pushed himself and it flared up on him; he had to take a week off.
"Everybody goes through injuries throughout their career. But yeah, that has to do with it – when the national team is looking at you, whether you’re playing week in and week out is an important thing.”
Earlier this week, Klinsmann shed some more light on the goalkeeping battle, telling the Washington Post that "both young 'keepers [Hamid and Johnson] are still going through ups and downs – physically with injuries and also with performance. Billy has some days he is phenomenal and then the next day, ‘Oh, I have an injury, I’m out.’ It’s a workload they are going through. For a goalkeeper, the most important thing is consistency week in and week out.”
Klinsmann also suggested that for now, Real Salt Lake ‘keeper Nick Rimando remains his preferred No. 3.
“Really [Johnson and Hamid ] haven’t gotten any closer to [Howard and Guzan] at all. [Yarborough] is in a similar situation,” Klinsmann told the Post. “The reality is there are two big stars and Nick Rimando is always the backup because he gives 100 percent seriousness and is a team guy. The goalkeeping situation hasn’t changed at all for almost four years, and we’ve given the youngsters many, many chances.”
Hamid, still just 24, has previously suggested that he’s happy to contribute in whatever way he can. For now, he’ll continue to focus on United’s almost-certain playoff run.
"I think Bill has grown every year that I’ve seen him,” Olsen concluded. "And he continues to be a guy who comes up with big saves. I think he’s also added a certain steadiness to his game that he maybe didn't have several years ago. He stays big, his communication back there makes us a better team. In all areas, he continues to grow, every year."