HOBOKEN, N.J. — Whether on or off the field, just about anything that Major League Soccer has to throw at Bill Hamid these days, he's seen it before.
From being the first Homegrown player in D.C. United history and the weight of expectation that came from early success; to winning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year while being a potential heir to Tim Howard's US men's national team throne; to European overtures and a short stint with FC Midtjylland in Denmark; to being overlooked by the national team this year and now becoming D.C.'s veteran presence, Hamid has experienced it all.
Quietly, Hamid was one of the best goalkeepers in MLS this season, helping D.C. United tread water through a difficult summer nadir. With the futures and form of Wayne Rooney and Lucho Acosta very much under scrutiny, Hamid was the constant both on the pitch and in the locker room.
He is an Allstate 2019 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year finalist, tied for the league-lead in shutouts and third in saves. He led the league in save percentage among keepers with 1,000 minutes or more and had more than a few breathtaking stops.
All the while, Hamid's own future is up in the air as his loan from Midtjylland expires at the end of the season. But with his extensive history around these parts, he isn't worried.
“I don’t think anything is decided," Hamid told MLSsoccer.com in September, calm and cool in voice and demeanor. "I’m older than Lucho now, the rookies we have in the locker room. It’s an interesting situation, I’ve been here before so I’m much more even-keeled than I was in the past in terms of what’s to come. I know whatever comes, I'll be alright."
Next season isn't near the front of his mind, though. Hamid and D.C. United are set to kick off their Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs run with a trip north to face Toronto FC in Round One on Saturday (6 pm ET | TUDN, TSN, TVAS).
"My focus is all about winning the East," Hamid said. "I got these fans screaming my name in unison every game, they have a chant for me. I’ve done a lot of great things for this club, I want to win MLS for this club. I want to solidify my own individual history for this club, that’d be the biggest thing in my career so far.”
Those fans help drive him on, the personalized chant means the world to him.
“It’s true appreciation. They have a lot of passion," Hamid said. "To see them in the city, sometimes at bars, sometimes at grocery stores — the manager at my grocery store is a member of the Screaming Eagles. To see them, to see their happiness … it’s special. I want nothing more right now than winning a trophy for these guys, they mean more than anything to me.”
Given the number of changes around the club, both in recent months and to come this offseason, D.C.'s opening day lineup next season is very much in flux. Acosta has been dropped from the starting lineup and is out of contract after the season, while Rooney is already set to depart for a return to England.
“No, I don’t think it changes the urgency," Hamid said. "Urgency needs to be there because we are who we are. When you look at world soccer, clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal, they’re expected to push for trophies because of their history. We’re an MLS club with loads of history. We’re expected to be in the playoffs pushing for MLS Cup. I don’t think the urgency changes. If Wayne’s not here and we’re in the same situation next year, the urgency will be the same."
Hamid's form this season has begun to receive appropriate recognition, particularly as he ended the season with five consecutive shutouts. He hasn't picked the ball out of the back of his net since Aug. 24 against the Philadelphia Union.
Despite his impressive performances, Hamid has yet to earn a return to the national team yet. He hasn't featured for the USMNT since just before the 2018 World Cup, starting a friendly loss to Ireland. Before this MLS season started he made waves by venting his frustration in January of not to be called into the January camp, adding he believes he's better than all four keepers that were called up.
“The year isn’t done yet so who knows, but I haven’t spoken to anybody [at US Soccer] since January," Hamid said. "It’s nice to see these young guys, I think they’re doing fine. I’m going to keep supporting the US team.”
Though reluctant to talk about himself, Hamid did admit winning Goalkeeper of the Year for a second time is something he hopes for.
“I did in 2014 thank God, it was a blessing," Hamid said. "For me, if we can win the East, that’s the biggest thing. I hope it happens, I hope I win [GK of the Year], but I really want this club to win the Eastern Conference.”