Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Hamid becomes a student of the game
by Paul Kennedy, February 23rd, 2015 10:07PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

MOST READ
TAGS:  concacaf champions league, d.c. united, men's national team, mls

MOST COMMENTED

By Paul Kennedy
(@pkedit)

Like most good goalkeepers, D.C. United's Bill Hamid will tell you the biggest improvement he has made is how he reads the game.

"You've got to beat the play to the punch" is how he sums up a keeper's job.

But before he learned how to read the game, he needed to start following the game.

"I realized it a little too late," says Hamid. "Because when I first started in 2009, honestly, I wouldn't watch any soccer. I was still hanging out at the malls. I was 18 years old. I was going to training. I was waiting for my friends to get out of school. I was going shopping. I had a little money in my pocket. I was a professional. I'm going to the movies. I'm going to the food court. Stuff that I didn't have the opportunity to do when I was a kid."

Now, Hamid realizes what it means to be a professional.

"You need to watch this stuff," he said. "You need to know who you're playing against. You need to know how they play."

How he goes about watching soccer isn't much different than how you or I do.

"I call my cable company," he says, "and say, 'Any soccer channel, make sure I get it. If I don't have it, I'm canceling.'"

Hamid watches anything and everything. As he was being interviewed at a roundtable of national media MLS had arranged in mid-January, he had the trifecta of special viewing options: the Concacaf U-20s, Asian Cup and African Cup of Nations. If he's bored, Hamid can pull out his DVD of the Ireland-USA friendly from last November.

"I've watched the game at least 50 times, I kid you not," he said.

Talk about a glutton for punishment. Hamid says the 4-1 loss for the USA -- his first cap since January 2012 -- was an eye-opening experience. On the first goal, Anthony Pilkington finishes off a rapid counterattack.

"I am too deep," says Hamid. "I read it too late. If I'm a little higher and I read it a little faster, I can probably clear that ball off his feet before he gets to the 18."

Hamid says his reading of the game has been his area of biggest improvement since turning pro as United's first Homegrown signing at 18 in 2009: "Just seeing what's about to happen and try to put out the fire as quickly as possible, helping my teammates out as well, trying to speak to them before the trouble comes instead of the trouble comes, now tell them what they did wrong."

In his fifth MLS season, Hamid was playing behind a whole new backline at D.C. United: Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum and Taylor Kemp, the latter two mid-season replacements for Jeff Parke, who was injured and Cristian Fernandez, who returned to Spain. Only Kemp had been with United in 2013 and he played just eight MLS games in a season split between the MLS club and its USL affiliate in Richmond.

Hamid credits all his defenders, but Boswell in particular for the success United had in 2014 as it finished first in the regular season in the Eastern Conference to complete a worst-to-first turnaround after it set an MLS record for futility, winning just three games in 2013.

"Having Bobby back there was an amazing pickup for us," says Hamid. "We needed someone like that there, especially after losing Dejan [Jakovic] to Japan. We needed that veteran presence and Bobby brought that. We needed organization in the back."

Hamid, who was named MLS's Goalkeeper of the Year, says D.C. United got much better at how it prepared for games, from the first day of training at the beginning of the week to gameday.

"The organization, the tactics, the approach from the players on a daily basis," he says. "You could tell guys came into the locker room focused for training, made sure they did the things they needed to do in training, worked in the gym and watched film religiously. All those little things helped. All those small details we took care of but didn't necessarily take care of the previous year led to the success we had in 2014."

D.C. United’s 43-point swing from 2013 to 2014 was the largest in MLS history.

"Coming off of 2013," he said, "to come into 2014 was like being in heaven. 2013 was absolute hell. It was terrible. We won the Open Cup. That's an amazing positive. But to finish in dead last place. To break records that no athlete ever wants to break, it was tough. 2014 for me and the club was an amazing year, a successful year regardless of no silverware."

That success extended to the international stage. D.C. United was the only U.S. MLS club to win its group in the 2014-15 Concacaf Champions League and will face Alajuelense of Costa Rica on Thursday. Win or lose against Alajuelense in their quarterfinal series, United will be back in the Concacaf Champions League as the only MLS club to return to the group stage for the 2015-16 season.

A shoulder injury kept Hamid out of January camp. He wants to avoid surgery at all costs as the memory of sitting more than six months in his rookie season following shoulder surgery still haunts him.

"I know the struggles," he says, "so I want to avoid another surgery. I don't like sitting."

Most goalkeepers are only breaking in at the age of 24, but Hamid already has 120 MLS games (regular season and playoffs) under his belt. He sees it as a trend.

"Goalkeepers are getting younger and better around the world," he says. "You've got guys like [Thibaut] Courtois and [David] de Gea. They say keepers don't hit their prime until they're 30. Well, hell, this guy is 24 and he's an early candidate for EPL goalkeeper of the year, this guy de Gea. So don't tell me that I've still got time. I want my time to be now."


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Bruce Arena makes the USA fun to watch    
Before Friday's game against Honduras, I wondered whether the U.S. national team would bring joy to ...
Michael Bradley: USA prepared 'to tilt the bar in our favor' early against Honduras    
As they train in San Jose for a crucial Hexagonal match against Honduras on Friday, the ...
Next move for Real Salt Lake is the most crucial in a decade    
The history of RSL is one of remarkable stability -- just three head coaches since starting ...
U.S. roster announcement: Bruce Arena's return marked by a singleness of purpose    
Multiply the left-back debate with a few more positions each with several candidates and you'll have ...
Quakes encouraged but not giddy after impressive opener    
Four seasons without playoffs has left the fervent fans in San Jose discouraged, but a ray ...
MLS 1-22: Ranking the teams on the eve of a new season    
Eight different teams have played in the last four MLS Cup finals and last year, 2015 ...
Random thoughts as the MLS season draws near    
The 2017 MLS season starts next Friday, March 3, more than a month earlier than the ...
Walker Zimmerman joins the U.S. centerback pool with solid performance    
Two FC Dallas centerbacks were summoned to the first U.S, camp of 2017 and after Matt ...
Rare USA golazo inspires some hope    
One swallow doesn't make a summer, but the USA delivered something impressive with its goal in ...
Greg Garza, soccer wanderer, finds place to start anew, again    
A long voyage to several continents has led U.S. international Greg Garza to the MLS startup ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives