IMAGE: leidos bill and bendik

Hamid and Bendik to face off in #ORLvDC

For the Black-and-Red, defense is critical. With captain and U.S. Men’s National Team defender Steve Birnbaum and MLS veteran Bobby Boswell at the heart of the defense alongside United's first-ever Homegrown Player Bill Hamid providing cover in goal, the Black-and-Red are well-versed in defending. Leidos, the presenting partner of D.C. United, is a global science and technology leader in defense. Whether it's air, land, sea, space, or cyberspace, Leidos meets challenges and provides solutions. Sponsored by Leidos, this weekly feature delves into some of the defensive storylines for United's next match.

Two goalkeepers with a knack for the spectacular square off on Wednesday, May 31, as Bill Hamid and D.C. United look to extend their unbeaten away streak against Joe Bendik and a struggling Orlando City SC.

United earned three critical points with a 1-0 victory in Vancouver last Saturday in large part thanks to a massive performance from Hamid, whose four saves led to his 45th career regular-season shutout and second shutout of 2017. Hamid’s athleticism and shot-stopping ability were on full display throughout the match, resulting in the Black and-Red’s Homegrown keeper being named to the MLS Team of the Week for Week 13.

"We love having Bill," defender Steve Birnbaum said following the Vancouver match. "He comes up with huge saves for us and keeps us in games like that. That's what got us the shutout and a win eventually. I can't tell you enough how much he saves our butt sometimes."

While Hamid's heroics were instrumental in United's road win, Orlando City suffered another defeat over the weekend and now find themselves winless in their last six matches. However, just as Hamid has come up huge for United between the posts, so has Bendik for Orlando. Last year’s player-voted and fan-voted Player of the Year for Orlando, Bendik has been at his best in goal this season and was voted April's Alcatel MLS Player of the Month by members of the media.

Both keepers have been regular frontrunners in MLS' Save of the Week voting so far this season, so Wednesday’s contest is sure to see some high-flying action from two of the league’s best. Hamid, the 2014 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, leads the league with 52 saves in 11 appearances, with Bendik not too far behind at 5th in the league with 43 saves in 13 appearances. 

Hamid also recently became the fourth-youngest player in Major League Soccer history to reach 15,000 minutes played. The 26-year-old has been a force in United’s goal for parts of the past eight seasons, and the Homegrown talent may just have been the Black-and-Red’s most important player over that stretch. 

"He might be overlooked in that he's been doing it for three years straight," head coach Ben Olsen said of Hamid after the shutout win in Vancouver. "It's nice to have a guy that can bail you out. Whether it's a forward, whether it's a midfielder, or in our case a goalkeeper.”

With two impressive shot-stoppers standing in the way of both goals on Wednesday, the net may look a bit smaller for two teams looking to climb the table. The Lions, who are 5-1-1 at home this season, will look to make their home field advantage count. A confident Hamid may make life hard on Orlando’s attack, though, regardless of venue.  

"Regardless of the situation, I always walk into the game with the right mentality," Hamid said. "I'm always trying to do my best, always trying to prepare and put in a good shift for my teammates, for the club, for myself, for my family."