WASHINGTON – With less than three weeks left before D.C. United's season opener against the Columbus Crew, head coach Ben Olsen is still unsure who will get the nod in goal at RFK Stadium.
The biggest question involves the health and ongoing recovery of youngster Bill Hamid, who staked his claim to the starting spot in net last season before suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery last September. The club has been patient with their 20-year-old 'keeper's recovery, but the rehab has taken slightly longer than expected and the club is still unclear if he'll be available for the March 19 kickoff.
During Tuesday’s training session, Hamid was active in several drills, but was not a part of a brief intrasquad scrimmage at the end of practice. After training, he joined veteran Pat Onstad and rookie Joe Willis in some goalkeeper drills.If Hamid is unable to play, Onstad is the liklely choice to get the nod. The 43-year-old veteran is little more than 10 days removed from his surprising return from retirement, in part forced to don the gloves after expected backup Steve Cronin suffered a broken wrist in preseason.
Onstad joined the club during the offseason as a goalkeepers coach after his celebrated and hearty career with the San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo.
“It’s a huge challenge and obviously it’s certainly something that was not planned,” Onstad said on Tuesday. "But at this stage — with Bill’s shoulder and Steve’s wrist — we were kind of left with very few options."
Because Onstad's offseason training regimen was that of a player retiring and not one looking to play, Onstad has been forced to play catch up over the past week and a half.
“Fortunately I’m pretty active, so regular shape’s not so bad," Onstad said. "Game shape’s still a little ways off."
“I think I’ve always been a good organizer at the back, and that’s essentially what I’ve been doing here as a coach – trying to make sure we lock down our back four and make sure our defensive record was better than it was last year significantly if we want to be successful," Onstad added. "Being on the field actually makes that a little bit easier."