“I thought it was a telemarketer or something,” he said after Thursday’s practice at RFK Stadium.
He ate lunch and then checked the message. It was from Juergen Klinsmann, the new U.S. men’s national soccer team coach.
“I was shocked,” Hamid said. “As soon as I heard the voice, I knew it was him. I didn’t listen to the rest of the message. I put the phone down and was like staring into a far-off land. I started crying a little bit.”
Hamid, 20, was among 22 players invited to the national team ahead of next Wednesday’s friendly against Mexico at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, the first senior call-up of his blossoming career.
The other keeper selected, World Cup veteran Tim Howard, is almost certain to play all 90 minutes against the Americans’ bitter rivals. But for Hamid, who played at Annandale and DeMatha high schools before signing with United in 2009, the invitation fulfilled his desire to break through on the international front.
“I want to get better and show [Klinsmann] I want to be one for the future and be in his plans,” said Hamid, who has conceded just one goal in the past four MLS matches and performed well since a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on June 11.
He is scheduled to start again Saturday against Toronto FC at RFK Stadium before reporting to U.S. camp the next day.
“It’s important for him to take it in stride and enjoy the experience but stay grounded and stay focused here, especially in the short term. I think he will,” United Coach Ben Olsen said. “He’s been in a good place for the last month. He went through a tough patch there [in midseason] but he dug his way out of it.
“I think it shows Juergen is committed to bringing in guys that are potentially the future of the national team.”
Hamid (6 feet 3, 225 pounds) is the top goalkeeping candidate for the U.S. under-23 squad, which will attempt to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. Klinsmann is eager to introduce new players into the system for a series of senior national team friendlies this year and early next year.
“He’s come a long way,” United goalkeepers coach Pat Onstad said. “I’ve been very impressed with him. This year he has gone from what I would call almost more like a boy into a man the last six months.”
For Hamid, the presence of Howard, 32, at camp is particularly poignant: His e-mail address includes a reference to Howard’s name, and the two have formed a bond in recent months.
Hamid used Howard’s success as inspiration last winter when the young keeper was rehabbing from shoulder surgery. They crossed paths in June when the U.S. squad was in Washington for a CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Jamaica and saw one another again last month when Howard’s English club, Everton, met United in a friendly at RFK.
“He’s like a big brother to me,” Hamid said. “He’s a cool guy and I look up to him immensely.”
Four other players with Washington area ties were named to the U.S. squad: defender Clarence Goodson (W.T. Woodson High, University of Maryland), midfielders Kyle Beckerman (Crofton, Md.) and Maurice Edu (U-Md.), and midfielder-forward Freddy Adu (Potomac, formerly with D.C. United).
Klinsmann selected a mix of young players and veterans, led by career scoring leader Landon Donovan and captain Carlos Bocanegra. Aside from Hamid, prospects include FC Dallas midfielder Brek Shea, Mexican league-based defenders Edgar Castillo and Michael Orozco Fiscal, and German-American defender Tim Chandler.