“The boss is back,” general manager Dave Kasper proclaimed in a news conference welcoming homegrown goalkeeper Bill Hamid to Audi Field.
Hamid returned to United after less than a year with Danish Superliga side FC Midtjylland. He sat behind goalkeeper Jesper Hansen there and made just one league appearance for the club.
“I wasn’t playing a lot at FC Midtjylland,” Hamid said. “With the expectation of being a national team player, you have to play regularly.”
After speaking to Midtjylland manager Jess Thorup in preseason, Hamid realized it was time to move on. Or, move back.
“Bill and I have stayed in regular contact since he left for Denmark,” Kasper said. “There was a different text that came across about six weeks ago.”
Hamid found success in his eight seasons at United, including MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and United States men’s national team call-ups. But he always had a thirst for the challenge of Europe, and when his United contract expired at the end of the 2017 season, he decided it was time to take the leap.
“I got to be a way from home,” Hamid said. “I got to learn a bit about myself … That was the biggest thing; being open to new challenges.”
Hamid, a D.C. native, grew up just outside the city in Annandale, Va. After moving through the United Academy system, Hamid signed with the first team in 2009 and became the clubs first homegrown player.
“The boss was always coming back,” coach Ben Olsen said. “He loves this place. To have Bill back with the club that he loves the most, the club he grew up with, it is a great day for the fans, the staff and this community.”
Hamid started all 184 league games that he played at United. He recorded 642 saves in eight seasons and allowed only 233 goals.
In his absence, United relied heavily on David Ousted as the man between the posts. Ousted has 45 saves this season and allowed 30 goals. Goalkeeper Steve Clark started three games for the Black-and-Red this season, recording 16 saves.
In contrast to last season, United’s offense has a certain attacking prowess, but the backline has given up more goals than the club has been able to score. United added English legend Wayne Rooney to that attack during the secondary transfer window, which closed earlier this week. Although Hamid is familiar with the United, he will have to introduce himself to Rooney, along with a new set of defenders that were not a part of the club when he left.
United signed Hamid, as well as former Portland defender Vytas in an attempt to solve the holes in defense. With three games in the next week, it is likely Hamid and Vytas will get minutes.
“[Hamid] wants to prove that he is the same goalkeeper he was a year and a half ago,” Olsen said. “I know he is. He knows he is and he is willing to put the work in, get the spot back and take us where we want to be.”
After years of playing at the paint-chipped RFK Stadium, Hamid took in the sights of Audi Field Friday for the first time.
“I have seen the photos everywhere, but to see it with my own eyes … I had butterflies,” Hamid said. “If and when I get the opportunity to step onto this field and represent this club in this stadium, it is going to be hard to hold back certain emotions.”
United is keen to get Hamid back into the the lineup as the team looks for a late playoff push. The Black-and-Red are last in the Eastern Conference with 15 games to play. Hamid could be the part of the puzzle missing as United ushered in a new era.
“Ever since we’ve known Bill, he has wanted to test the waters in Europe,” Kasper said. “Now that he is back it does feel like there is a missing piece that is now connected.”