United's Bill Hamid battles shoulder injury as matchup with Houston looms

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 22, 2010

Goalkeeper Bill Hamid has been one of the few bright spots during D.C. United's gloomy spring, but this week even he wasn't immune to the club's misfortunes.

Hamid injured his right shoulder sliding into a goal post while extending himself to make a save during Tuesday's practice session, and although he practiced Friday, he didn't appear comfortable and confident. After a couple of saves, he supported the affected arm and stood motionless with his head bowed.

Coach Curt Onalfo said he wouldn't decide on the starter for Saturday night's match at Houston until earlier in the day, but early indications point to Troy Perkins, who lost the job to Hamid early this month.

"If [Hamid] is not 100 percent," Onalfo said, "I don't think it's the environment to throw him in."

Hamid, 19, has performed well since making his pro debut May 5, starting three matches and making several excellent saves before being at fault in a 1-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids last weekend at RFK Stadium. That defeat dropped United's record to 1-7, the worst start in its 15-season history. Perkins, reacquired in the offseason to stabilize United's most volatile position, has shown improvement in practice since being benched. "Troy has been very, very good," Onalfo said.

Regardless of Hamid's health, United needs to begin reincorporating Perkins in order to manage a busy schedule. The club is facing six matches in 19 days before MLS's World Cup break: four league games, a U.S. Open Cup qualifier and a friendly against AC Milan on Wednesday at RFK Stadium.

Hamid's injury came the same week as the return of forward-midfielder Chris Pontius, who has been sidelined since mid-April since a hamstring injury. Pontius traveled with the club to Houston and will be available in reserve.

"We played a couple games [in practice] and I went 30 minutes, and I felt good," he said. "That is the good thing about being young [23]; you don't lose your fitness too fast. Game fitness is completely different, so I wouldn't say I am 100 percent fit, but I could contribute 30 to 45 minutes."

Having scored just four goals and been shut out six times, United needs all the attacking help it can muster. Besides Pontius, striker Luciano Emilio will be available after being left off the game-day roster last weekend because of fitness issues.

"I am almost done getting ready," he said. "Hopefully I can play some minutes [in Houston] and maybe next week I will be ready for 90 minutes."

United is 0-4-1 at Robertson Stadium and, until a 4-3 loss last summer, had not scored there. However, the Dynamo (4-4-1) is without three starters on international duty: Forward Brian Ching (five goals in seven league games against United) is vying for a U.S. World Cup roster spot, while goalkeeper Pat Onstad and defender Andrew Hainault are with Canada for Monday's friendly against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

United notes: Defender Dejan Jakovic (shoulder) is two to three weeks from returning, but midfielder Santino Quaranta (staph infection) might be available Wednesday.

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