D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid has started most of the past nine years, and even after missing time, he almost always returned to the lineup right away.

But in Hamid’s recent absence, Chris Seitz, a 14-year MLS veteran in his second season in Washington, seized the opportunity and put himself in position to retain the job — even with Hamid back in the mix.

Coach Ben Olsen called choosing one or the other a “good problem to have.” He did not announce who will start Saturday against the visiting New York Red Bulls.

Barring a late change, however, Seitz will start his fourth consecutive match and Hamid will be in uniform for the first time in 2½ weeks, a person close to the decision-making process said.

Hamid missed two matches for what the team said were “personal reasons.” He had arrived late to practice more than once, two people familiar with the situation said, and when he returned from leave, he was out of shape.

In training this week, Olsen said Hamid “looked very good.” Seitz, though, is in a good rhythm and seems to have forged strong connections with the players around him.

All of Seitz’s assignments have come with United missing several injured starters. In the first game, the Philadelphia Union scored three early goals and cruised to a 4-1 victory.

In the subsequent games, with Olsen employing defensive tactics to offset his team’s attacking shortfalls, Seitz made several critical saves and did not concede a goal in a 1-0 away victory against the Red Bulls and a 0-0 draw with New York City FC at Audi Field.

“He saved the day a few times,” Olsen said of Seitz against NYCFC, which enjoyed lopsided advantages in shots (19-0), corner kicks (9-0) and possession (70 percent).

Seitz, 33, had not posted multiple shutouts in a season since 2016 with FC Dallas, the last year he was a full-time starter. United is his fifth team since he left the University of Maryland after two seasons and winning the 2005 NCAA championship.

“It’s one area of great depth right now,” Olsen said of his goalkeeping corps, which also includes Earl Edwards Jr., a sixth-year pro. “I will make that call. It won’t be an easy one, because Bill is arguably the best goalie in the league and you have a guy who is experienced and came in and did a very good job.”

In the long run, Olsen said: “I am sure Bill will eventually get back in the goal. It could be this weekend, or it could be in the near future.”

Hamid, an Annandale native who will turn 30 in November, is second in United history in regular season appearances (238) behind retired forward Jaime Moreno (329). No other D.C. goalkeeper has played 100 regular season games. Hamid’s 14 shutouts last season were a career high.

Seitz has been a backup most of his career, and with United, he started one regular season game last year and received the nod for nonleague matches.

With Hamid out, Seitz has “put in some quality minutes,” defender Oniel Fisher said.

United (2-4-4) is approaching the midway point of a fractured regular season: two games before the season was halted by the novel coronavirus pandemic, three matches at the Disney World tournament this summer and 18 between late August and early November.

Because of the recent rash of injuries, Olsen prioritized defense, an approach that left Seitz and the back line under constant duress against NYCFC. Those tactics were effective but exhausting. United rarely had possession in the attacking end.

Olsen bristled at criticism of his defensive style, saying, "I don’t understand why sometimes the narrative is geared always toward the offensive side and a lack of appreciation toward a group willing to defend and grind and do what it takes within what they have to offer to get a result.”

The attackers understood why United played that way but weren’t thrilled about it.

“It is not fun to play thinking about defense the whole time, the whole game,” midfielder Yamil Asad said. “I think we are going to change something [Saturday] — maybe the formation, maybe some names. But we have to show something different because we can’t play like the last game. That was too much for us.”

Notes: United’s next three matches have been finalized: Sept. 19 against Toronto FC at Audi Field, Sept. 23 at Nashville SC and Sept. 27 against the visiting New England Revolution. The remainder of the schedule remains unsettled. ...

The Washington Spirit will play its second and final home match of the National Women’s Soccer League fall series at noon Saturday against the Chicago Red Stars at Segra Field in Leesburg. The NWSL is not allowing spectators. Last weekend, in the first of four games over five weeks, Washington lost to Sky Blue FC, 2-1. ...

On Saturday night at Segra Field, Loudoun United, D.C.'s second-division squad, will host Philadelphia Union II. Up to 1,000 fans are permitted.

New York Red Bulls at D.C. United

When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Audi Field.

TV: WJLA 24/7 News.

Live stream: dcunited.com

Records: Red Bulls 3-5-2, 11 points; United 2-4-4, 10 points.

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