Extreme makeover: D.C. United edition
Thursday, January 20, 2011
On a Saturday morning this winter, Bill Hamid was home watching goalkeeping idol Tim Howard make a series of brilliant saves in a televised English Premier League match when it dawned on him.
It was time to grow up.
Hamid had made a rapid ascent since graduating from D.C. United's youth academy and signing a pro contract at age 18. He started eight regular season matches last year, showing glimpses of both brilliance and immaturity.
But to meet his goals of playing regularly in MLS and then someday fulfilling his dream of moving to the elite leagues of Europe, he would need to alter the arc of his career.
"When I saw that performance and then I went on Twitter and everyone was talking about him and the U.S. goalkeepers that will follow, I really wanted to follow in his footsteps and surpass him," said Hamid, who has admired Howard for so long, he incorporated the U.S. World Cup keeper's name into his personal e-mail address.
"To get there, I knew I had to buckle down. I decided in my mind I had to change my life around."
Physically, it would mean losing weight, building muscle mass and quickening reflexes. Mentally, it would require a more serious approach to soccer and life.
So during United's break, while rehabilitating a shoulder injury that had cut short his 2010 season, Hamid worked on becoming a better player and better man.
On the basement level of ratty RFK Stadium, while most of his teammates were enjoying a brief vacation, Hamid lifted weights and worked with athletic trainer Brian Goodstein and strength coach Pete Calabrese.
He became a regular at a Capitol Hill health club and changed his diet. He researched the weights and body fat percentages of the top keepers in Europe.
In the fall, he was packing 245 pounds into a 6-foot-3 frame. Now he is down to 220. By shedding excess bulk, his facial features are prominent and his shoulders and torso defined. At first glance, his physique rivals that of sculpted U.S. World Cup defender Oguchi Onyewu.
"I saw him from a distance and had to ask someone, 'Who is that guy?' " United President Kevin Payne said. "I honestly didn't recognize him."