As the United States begins to focus on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Bruce Arena will start narrowing down his preferred choices at every position. One of the main debates he will have will be which goalkeepers he will turn to in the clutch. It’s widely known that Tim Howard is the clear #1 and Brad Guzan the backup, but who’s #3? While several goalkeepers are in the mix, Bill Hamid emerged from the Gold Cup with the strongest case. The only goalkeeper in the USMNT pool to remain with the squad throughout the tournament and getting a start and clean sheet against Nicaragua in the group stage, many think Hamid may have earned a chance to be the backup or even considered for the starting spot as the team moves forward.
But, Bill Hamid has been in the debate with the USMNT for several years. A 26-year-old homegrown player for D.C. United, Hamid has dazzled fans for years with his saves and his play. He has 3 appearances for the USMNT, making his debut with a clean sheet against Venezuela in January 2012. He also started a loss against Ireland in November 2014. Still, some inconsistent moments coupled with untimely injuries kept Hamid out of the mix for a few years. Now that he’s fully healthy and playing well, he earned a call up for the Gold Cup and the start (and victory) against Nicaragua.
So, what does Bill Hamid have to do to get more playing time for the USMNT and solidify himself as the #1 guy after Tim Howard and Brad Guzan say goodbye, or even before that? This is a good start:
This is a no-brainer. He has missed or withdrawn from the last three January camps with the USMNT due to injury. Whenever it seems like he was on a hot streak and deserved to be called up, he would pick up a knock or some injury that would keep him off the roster. If he can stay healthy, Bruce Arena will give him the opportunities to succeed.
Find the best situation possible
Currently, Bill Hamid is in the final year of his contract with D.C. United, and they have had off-and-on talks for a new deal. Right now, the question many have is: will Bill Hamid finally head to Europe? What Bill Hamid should do is find the best situation for him to get the playing time he requires to get the looks on the USMNT. Is that still in DC or is that in Europe? Wherever that is, Hamid should want to be with the club that will give him the best chance to grow and mature as a player and take his game to the next level. Only he can decide where that is, but this will be key to him getting more playing time on the international level.
Continue to grow and mature as player and leader
As Bill Hamid heads into the final 10 matches of the season with D.C. United, he needs to continue to show growth and maturity. With D.C. United’s recent moves, he has all of a sudden become one of the sage veterans at the young age of 26. D.C. United’s longest tenured player, Hamid must elevate his play down the stretch. He can always improve on his positioning during the run of play. One other way to always be mentioned during call up time is to continue to excel at shot stopping. He’s 4th in MLS in saves, and that’s despite his team having a terrible season defensively. Through all of D.C.’s woes, Bill Hamid is still getting opportunities. Imagine what could happen if he wills his team to some victories as summer turns to fall. Great play will keep him on the radar and on Bruce Arena’s mind.
Take advantage of every opportunity with USMNT
When Bill Hamid does get call ups to the USMNT, he must not let the opportunity go to waste. Currently, the pool of goalkeepers who have a reasonable shot at that 3rd goalkeeper spot on the plane to Russia includes Hamid, Ethan Horvath, Jesse Gonzalez, Sean Johnson and William Yarbrough. Bill Hamid must continue to learn and perform well when in these camps. Should the USMNT qualify for the World Cup without needing the inter-confederation playoff, November will be a month that has two friendlies for the team. There’s also the annual January camp, the March 2018 international window, and then at least 1 send-off match before the World Cup next summer. There will be plenty of matches that Bill Hamid could earn playing time. When he gets the start or comes on at halftime, he must play to the level we’ve seen him play. Can he be The Man? Sure he can. When gets a chance, he must show Bruce Arena that he not only deserves to be on the team, but he deserves to be on the field.
Play better than Brad Guzan down the stretch
Finally, Bill Hamid has an opportunity to play against the #1 and #2 USMNT keepers in the next couple weeks, when he travels to Denver to take on Tim Howard and the Colorado Rapids August 19th, followed by a return to RFK Stadium to host Brad Guzan and Atlanta United on August 23rd. Outperforming those guys down the stretch, Guzan especially, will give Hamid an opportunity to state his case about serving as the backup goalkeeper for the national team. From there, more opportunities will come for him to see the field.
Bill Hamid is entering an important time for him and his career. If he can continue to perform well, as he has this season, USMNT fans could be seeing a lot more of Bill Hamid between the goalposts as we continue on the Road to Russia.