D.C. United and USMNT goalkeeper Bill Hamid is back on the hot stove. Will this be the season that he leaves the nation’s capital?
At this point Bill Hamid has to be used to the rumors and the speculation. Ever since he first put on the United jersey it seems as if he has been at the center of some transfer window move. In just eight seasons Hamid has gone from being one of the top young prospects in all of MLS and American soccer to one of the best goalkeepers in North America. But after so many years is it time for him to finally jump ship and head off to parts unknown?
It appears at least in the interim that he is interested in testing European waters. In a tweet sent out by the Washington Post’s Steven Goff it was revealed that Hamid will be training “informally” with English Premier League side Swansea City for the next week or two.
Although trainings like this occur all of the time, with younger players with high upside there is always that thought that there might be some more going on. It should also be noted Swansea is coached by Bob Bradley, former USMNT manager, and is owned by Jason Levien, who is also part-owner of D.C. United.
For as much as it would make things easier for players looking to test foreign waters there really isn’t a blue print model for what to do. Since MLS’ inception countless players have gone abroad and had varying levels of success. For every Clint Dempsey, Yura Movsisyan, or Andy Najar there is an Eddie Johnson, Freddy Adu, or Brek Shea. It is not necessarily a given that success or upside in North America will translate abroad.
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Although there is no blueprint for success abroad there are certainly two questions that Hamid can ask himself when deciding to stay or leave. The first is: Will it improve my career in the short and long-term? Hamid could spend the rest of his years in D.C. and become local legend.
At just the tender age of 25 Hamid has already made 160 appearances for United a club record for goalkeepers. He also holds the club record for shutouts with 43 and won the 2014 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award.
While all of that is well and good the question is whether being at D.C. United can improve his career? The club is at a crossroads with the side making the MLS Cup Playoffs for a third consecutive season yet they aren’t making progress towards another title. Given their lack of available funds and resources due to paying rent at RFK Stadium the deck stacked against them until they can turn a profit.
Staying in MLS also seems to have hurt his chances with the USMNT. Despite his efforts for club Hamid has not been given much of a chance for country. He has made just two appearances at the senior level with neither match really making many waves. Jurgen Klinsmann has also given his thoughts about where Hamid fits in the pecking order saying:
"And right now, in that ranking, [Hamid is] probably around number six or seven. You have Tim Howard, you have Brad Guzan, you have Ethan Horvath, you have William Yarborough, you have David Bingham, you have Nick Rimando, we have [Hamid], we have Sean Johnson."
If Hamid wants to make it back into the USMNT fold he is going to have to think about if D.C. United is the right spot to do that. United have a long history of finding and getting players to the senior national team but Klinsmann has a very different perspective about MLS than coaches in the past. Perhaps Hamid places more value on club over country but it is certainly something that he will have to look at.
The second question that he is going to need to look is where he feels most comfortable. Goalkeepers very much creatures of habit and they often take long to adapt to a new environment than say a field position player. Since 2010 Hamid has been United’s unquestioned starter.
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But if he were to go abroad he would have to deal with not just a new league, but a new style of play, new geographical challenges, and a new culture. If he were to leave he would not be Bill Hamid, former MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, he would be just Bill Hamid.
Whatever Hamid chooses to do the odds are he is going to be successful at it. Having worked for his starting spot, having come back from multiple injuries, and having led United from the ashes of a three win season to three consecutive playoff appearances it is apparent that he is more than capable at having a prolonged successful career.
The question is now what move can help him break that glass ceiling with the USMNT roster and push him to the forefront of the top goalkeepers in the world.