If no contract offers come his way this month, Bill Hamid says he will join La Barra Brava, the Screaming Eagles and other D.C. United fanatics behind Audi Field’s north goal for the season opener against Toronto FC.
One of the most notable names in the MLS free agent market, Hamid remains available. The other experienced goalkeeping candidates have found jobs: Sean Johnson (New York City FC) landed in Toronto, and Tyler Miller (Minnesota) and Alex Bono (Toronto) have come to Washington as part of a three-man battle for Hamid’s slot.
Using his network of contacts, Hamid said he has spoken with people around MLS. He also said he has had conversations with three European clubs.
“I kind of felt them out. They felt me out,” said Hamid, who joined Danish side Midtjylland in early 2018 before returning to Washington midway through the MLS season. “Since those conversations, I haven’t really heard back, so I’m just like sitting by the phone and just focused on what I can control.”
To stay active, he is training with Loudoun United, the Leesburg-based, second-division team that’s affiliated with D.C. United. D.C. Sporting Director Dave Kasper and Loudoun Coach Ryan Martin signed off on the workouts, Hamid said.
“Kasper and I have so much love for each other,” said Hamid, an Annandale native who in 2009 was D.C.'s first homegrown signing from its youth academy. “He’s trying to make sure that I’m at least in fighting shape and sharp when a call comes, so I am thankful the organization said, ‘Yeah.’ ”
With MLS preseason entering its final stretch, clubs are in the last stage of filling roster slots. Given his experience, Hamid is not someone to round out a squad as the No. 3 goalkeeper, a place usually taken by a prospect. He is a player who would appeal to a club looking for someone to compete for the starting job or stand ready to step in on short notice.
If he doesn’t receive an offer soon, Hamid could become an option during MLS’s summer signing period.
“I’ve been working for a long time now, training and working with people to try to figure out a solution,” Hamid said. “The most important thing for me is just to focus on my training.”
Hamid has not played in a competitive match since May 28, the last of his 10 league starts last season. He hadn’t made so few appearances since his 2010 rookie season (eight matches).
In June, Hamid underwent hand surgery, which ruled him out a few months. Upon recovering, he said, he had to deal with a serious health issue involving someone in his immediate family, as well as the imminent birth of his first child, Omari.
“I had to step back a little bit,” he said. “I just had a lot to focus on at home. It was a serious time, and I had to help my family.”
By then, needing to shore up the goalkeeping core, United had acquired David Ochoa from Real Salt Lake. With Hamid’s contract expiring soon and Ochoa or a free agent expected to win the starting job in 2023, United officials decided they would not offer Hamid a new deal.
To provide Hamid a proper farewell, Coach Wayne Rooney planned to play him in the last regular season match. But that would have required Hamid getting back up to speed. He wasn’t training regularly with the team, and with family concerns persisting, the opportunity faded.
Instead, United honored him at halftime of the finale against FC Cincinnati. An emotional, pretaped interview played on the video board, and with his son in his arms, he soaked in the ovations.
His winter has been consumed by workouts, guest appearances on local television during and after the World Cup, and family time.
Loudoun United has not raised the possibility of a contract, though he said he might welcome the opportunity to stay close to family.
“Best thing in the world — such a happy baby,” he said. “So smiley, energetic. A little bit feisty too, but I love it.”
Judging by Omari’s little goalie outfits, “I guess he has no choice,” Hamid said, laughing.
Notes: Ted Ku-DiPietro, a homegrown attacker entering his second MLS season, scored a goal and assisted Christian Benteke’s stoppage-time winner in a 2-1 preseason victory over Los Angeles FC on Monday in Indio, Calif.
United will conclude its Coachella Valley Invitational schedule Thursday against the San Jose Earthquakes before returning to Washington for the buildup to the Feb. 25 opener.