Last night, D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid earned his first-ever cap for the U.S. Men's National Team. The 21-year old net minder became the seventh U.S. goaltender to earn a clean sheet in his debut, as the U.S. topped Venezuela 1-0 on Ricardo Clock's stoppage time goal.
We caught up with Hamid the day after his debut to ask about the experience.
Tell us about the January camp - what have the last few weeks been like for you and your teammates?
It's been a lot of work. We came into camp expecting to put in a lot of work, so when we have to wake-up and do early morning sessions and afternoon and evening sessions - it gives us a lot of time to get to know each other and gel, build team chemistry.
Which players on the team have you been spending time with off the field?
I'm close to all of the young guys because I meet them a lot on these national team trips. Some of the regulars like Juan [Agudelo], Brek [Shea], Teal [Bunbury] who I see often, but also CJ Sapong, who is from the DC area. A couple guys went to the University of Maryland - Graham Zusi and AJ DeLaGarza - so, I came in knowing a bunch of the guys.
What did Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann tell you about your role on this team as you began camp?
For him, it's about coming in and doing work - it's not necessarily about roles, especially it being a January camp, which means we came in three weeks before the game. It was all about coming in and getting fit, getting off the couch from offseason a little earlier than most. We've been getting ready for two big international games, so it wasn't as much about roles as it was getting in shape and working hard, trying to impress and make the 18.
After being called-in to a handful of camps over the last several months, you finally got your call - can you tell us how Jurgen informed you that you'd be getting the start and what your feelings were?
He pulled the goalies aside the night before the game, right before training started and told us how we were going to start. He said I've done a ton of work in the last seven months and shown well in the camps I've been in. He gave me the nod and said he trusted me, so for me that was a big confidence boost and it's something I'm just going to look to keep building on.
Talk to us about your preparation for this game - what were your expectations of Venezuela?
Their game is pretty cut and dry - they fight all over the field. Every player wants to be a warrior. They stick into tackles and do the dirty work to see success. We know that they like to shoot from distance - whenever they get any type of look, they attempt to shoot. We wanted to close their shots down and not give them opportunities to dump balls in the box.The guys in front of me did really well to cut off passes and not give them many chances.
What were you feeling as you pulled on that U.S. jersey and when you first took the field before the start of the match?
I was very, very excited. I was pumped up in the locker room - to the max. I was very energetic and wanted to get out there. The national anthem started playing and I got a little - I'm not going to lie - I got a little emotional, because it's obviously something I've dreamed of since I could remember watching World Cups and the Olympics. For me, it was a very special moment to be able to sing the national anthem with the starting USA goalie jersey on - it meant a lot.
Talk to us about the game and the job the back four did to limit Venezuela's chances?
The back four played extremely well. I talked to the two defensive midfielders that we had, too - they did a great job, figuring out passing lanes and not giving them chances on goal. So, hats off to them for helping me out. I knew I would have to use my feet a lot, which I did, because we want to play. We want to put the ball on the ground and play through teams, dictate the flow of the game. The attack starts with me, I had to play out of back, find the right options and play quick with my hands when I got the ball. The game plan was set out well to beat this team.
Describe your emotions as you saw Ricardo Clark score the game-winner deep in stoppage time?
It was crazy because we had a lot of chances to finish them off, but that's how it goes. You have to keep plugging to the end, and fortunately they had a couple players go down with injuries, so we had a lot of stoppage time to find a goal and when Rico put that header in, it was very emotional for all of us. It's been a long three weeks for us, with three-a-days and working our tails off, so for us to get that goal late, was a very good moment for us.
What will you take from this camp and bring back to preseason with D.C. United?
I've definitely learned a lot - nutrition-wise, fitness-wise, working here at Athletes' Performance in Arizona. I want to take that back to keep myself in top shape for the season. Everything that I can take from this camp, I'm going to bring it back to DC, so I can help the club be successful.
As you think about rejoining your teammates, what are your thoughts about the upcoming MLS season and the group in place?
I'm definitely very excited - we got DeRo [Dwayne De Rosario] back and having a player like him is a blessing. I'm happy about the Danny Cruz move - he's a good friend of mine. He's a guy that I see as a extreme talent on the wing, he likes to go at players, he likes to shoot. So, I'm very excited with that pick-up. We've got guys like [Chris] Pontius, [Dejan] Jakovic, BMac [Brandon McDonald], [Andy] Najar and others - it's looking promising. This year is looking really good for us to find chemistry - keeping consistency throughout the year is going to be key. I'm positive we can get the job done and get D.C. United back into playoffs. I can't wait to get started.
The U.S. Men's National Team will travel to Panama City early this week in preparation for Wednesday's game against Panama (8:30 p.m. ET / ESPN3, Galavision).