With a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire Saturday evening at Toyota Park, D.C. United sealed the second seed in the East largely due to the sprawling play of homegrown goalkeeper Bill Hamid. The 21-year-old tied his career high with eight saves, as he stymied the Fire again and again throughout the intense contest.
Having gone down 1-0 in just the 16th minute from a Patrick Nyarko long-distance strike, United was put on its heels. On a quick Chicago breakaway four minutes later, Hamid made a massive save on a Sherjill MacDonald close-range blast to keep his team within one. With the score tied 1-1 five minutes after halftime, courtesy of a Lionard Pajoy header, Hamid came up big against MacDonald for the second time in the match, pawing another point-blank shot away in the 63rd. A Dominic Oduro denial in the 73rd minute, another MacDonald block in the 92nd minute and a last-gasp tip of an Alex screamer were all crucial in preserving the course-changing draw.
Eager to spread the credit around, after the game Hamid said: “It was just us as a team coming together to keep the ball out of the net. There was one play where Marcelo [Saragosa] and Nicky [DeLeon] came up with two blocks off the goal line. We were closing down well and winning 50/50 balls in the air in the box.”
Perhaps no surprise based on his most recent display, Hamid came into the season finale against Chicago leading all goalkeepers in save percentage (76.9%) and sitting in third in goals against average (1.04 GAA). In 24 starts in 2012, Hamid only has six losses to his name, third-best in MLS (minimum 20 games played), compiling a 13-6-4 overall mark.
“He’s become a guy with a real presence in there,” said Head Coach Ben Olsen. “As long as he can continue to stay at this level, be consistent and improve, he’s got an unbelievable future.”
The draw saw the Black-and-Red close the regular season on a 5-0-2 unbeaten streak, with a stingy 0.71 GAA in that stretch. The team begins its quest for the MLS Cup at RFK Stadium vs the New York Red Bulls on Saturday at 8:00 PM, with the second leg being played at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday, November 7 at 8:00 PM. PURCHASE TICKETS