A 14-minute substitute’s appearance amid of flurry of second-half personnel changes may have been easy to overlook, but for Bill Hamid, his second-half cameo in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 1-0 win against Costa Rica was still significant for what it symbolized.
Hamid’s first USMNT appearance in more than a year marked the reward for what was a successful first national team camp under head coach Gregg Berhalter, who called him in after having passed on bringing him at any point in 2019.
Berhalter called Hamid for the recent January camp, and came away impressed with what he saw from the D.C. United goalkeeper.
“Bill has been great,” Berhalter said. “We had conversations coming into camp about what his role was going to be in this camp, and how he could help the group. Him being experienced, him being one of the oldest players in camp. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and more. He’s been good for the group. He’s performed at a good level.”
Hamid went into the January camp with a point to prove about how he could fit into Berhalter’s possession-based system, which puts heavy demands on the goalkeeper to pass well out of the back. One of the knocks against Hamid has long been about the label he carries as a bad passer, a label Hamid disputes.
“At D.C., we play a certain way. It’s not always play out of the back, we don’t have that expectation,” Hamid said. “People make that assumption, that I can’t play out of the back, but I know what I’m capable of doing. I know how to adapt, with the years of experience that I have. I’m glad that I’m here, to be able to show him that, but also to be able to learn a different style of play and just continue growing because I don’t want to stop learning.”
By the end of the January camp, Berhalter sounded like a coach who was impressed with the progress Hamid made in the passing department.
“One of the things we’ve been critical on him was buildup from goalkeeper,” Berhalter said. “We wanted him to be open to learning and executing and he was exactly that. He’s been great in trying everything and what we saw was big improvement from him this month.”
The USMNT goalkeeper position is in state of transition, with the likes of Tim Howard and Nick Rimando having retired, and Brad Guzan at the tail-end of his career at the age of 35. Zack Steffen is the current undisputed number one, but he is also battling knee tendonitis that has sidelined him in recent weeks.
That could leave the door open for a good competition for the number one spot, with Sean Johnson the current front-runner and Guzan still in the picture. Now, Hamid’s name can be included in that list after an impressive January camp.
“We talked about the theme of this camp being stake your claim, or seize your moment for some of these guys,” Berhalter said. “Everyone has a different situation. Some guys want to make the Olympic qualifying group. Some guys want to be starters on that group. Some guys want to be starters on the full national team. Some guys want to be involved in the full national team.
“Everyone has a different way they’re looking at this,” Berhalter said. “Collectively, can we perform well as a group, and individually can guys make a case for their involvement moving forward.”
For Hamid, he heads into 2020 having made a very good case for his first USMNT call-up under Berhalter not being his last.