D.C. United has started the 2015 season short-handed, with many key squad members unavailable.
Defender Steve Birnbaum is out with an ankle sprain, Fabian Espindola is still suspended, Eddie Johnson is out indefinitely with a heart condition and offseason acquisition Markus Halsti is still weeks away from making his debut due to a knee injury. And Luis Silva only just returned from injury.
Even with all the absences, United is off to its best start since 2006, winning three of its first four games. The reason is twofold: late-game heroics and the continued excellence of goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
United won its two most recent matches in extremely similar fashion: In each game, Hamid played 90 stellar minutes before one of his teammates scored a winner in second-half stoppage time.
Against the LA Galaxy two weeks ago, Chris Pontius headed a late winner home in a 1-0 win. Last weekend in Orlando, Silva — making his first appearance of the season — curled in a free kick in the dying seconds to give his side a 1-0 victory.
The late heroics aren’t a sustainable trend for United, but Hamid’s brilliance appears to be something the team can count on. After winning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year last season, the 24-year-old has picked up right where he left off.
His best performance of the season came against Orlando as he made five saves — some of the highlight-reel variety — en route to being named to the MLS Team of the Week by the league’s official website.
It was a statement game for Hamid in a week when William Yarbrough made his first appearance for the U.S. national team. Yarbrough, a 26-year-old goalkeeper for Club Leon in Mexico, is Hamid’s latest challenger for playing time with the national team.
Hamid will likely receive a call-up for USA’s friendly against Mexico next week. It could be his next chance to impress on the big stage.
If Hamid, currently third or fourth on the U.S. depth chart, continues to perform like he has this season, he’ll be able to fend off just about any challenger that comes his way.
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