Photo by Michael Pimentel/ISIphotos.com
By AVI CREDITOR
WASHINGTON — D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid thought he was being spammed by a telemarketer.
Nope, it's just new U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann offering an opportunity of a lifetime.
"I saw a message (on the phone) and it was an awkward number so I thought it was a telemarketer," Hamid said. "So I checked it like an hour later after I ate lunch, and it happened to be Jurgen Klinsmann. I was shocked. As soon as I heard the voice I knew it was him."
And he knew what the call meant, even if he put the phone down and didn't listen to the message all the way through out of sheer emotion.
Hamid will be getting the chance to represent his country.
Hamid's inclusion on the United States' roster for next week's friendly at Mexico is a landmark moment in the progression of someone who has been projected to be a future international star but is still in the infancy of his professional career.
In his first season as a full-time starter, the 20-year-old Hamid has blossomed, especially since bouncing back from one of his roughest outings, a 4-2 loss to San Jose on June 11. Since then, a more composed, confident Hamid has been the backbone behind D.C.'s improved defensive effort.
"He's probably not there on a consistent level yet, but I kind of go back to the game we lost to San Jose, he was the first guy to come in and say 'I wasn't happy with how I played,'" said D.C. goalkeeper coach Pat Onstad, who has taken Hamid under his wing since joining the D.C. staff.
"Since then he's turned things around and played very well, and that's important. You have to go through your ups and downs as a goalkeeper. Bill's always relied on that athletic ability, but now in this stage he's realizing that the hard work in training is helping him get out of those slumps."
While he's embraced the hard-work aspect to the job, Hamid's raw physical and vocal attributes are what make him a candidate to remain in the U.S. picture for years to come.
At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, he represents an imposing force between the posts. He's aggresive in coming off his line, communicates well and is capable of making the spectacular save. Most importantly, he's eager to learn and improve.
"Bill's at a good place right now," Onstad said. "He's done all the hard work, he's got confidence in his ability and he knows he's put the work in to get that confidence. He's in a perfect place to get this opportunity."
D.C. coach Ben Olsen thinks that the pairing of Onstad and Hamid has been instrumental to the player's growth in his second season since becoming the first D.C. United player to sign straight from the team's academy.
"He's tailor-made for Bill," Olsen said. "(Hamid)'s a young keeper who's very athletic and can make the big save. Pat is a very smart goalkeeper and very experienced and can pass on all the knowledge that he's had, whether its communication or staying up and not always looking for the big save. All these technical things that the average soccer fan doesn't think about."
Following Saturday night's important home game against Toronto FC, Hamid can start preparing for life in a national-team jersey for the first of what he hopes to be many times. He'll back up Tim Howard, one of the players after whom he's tried to model his game, against Mexico while trying to show Klinsmann that for at least the next three years, whether it's for the Olympic team or the senior national team, he belongs in the U.S. picture.
"I just want to take it in and work hard," Hamid said. "Jurgen said that he wants guys that want to get better on a day-by-day basis. That's definitely something in my mind. I want to get better and show him that I want to be one for the future, or one soon. I want to work hard and be in his plans."