There are few players who understand the magnitude of the rivalry against the Red Bulls quite like United goalkeeper Bill Hamid. The first-ever Homegrown signing for the Black-and-Red’s experience with the rivalry stretches back to his time in the Academy and has only intensified in his professional career.
Hamid has made a reputation for himself in Major League Soccer as a goalkeeper who comes up big in critical moments and is a fierce competitor. The 28-year-old has had some of his biggest performances in his nine-year career at United when going up against the Red Bulls, and Sunday will be his first major test since returning to the club after a stint in the top-tier of Danish soccer with FC Midtjylland.
The goalkeeper's first taste of Atlantic Cup rivalry action came on April 21, 2011. The Red Bulls were spearheaded by world-renowned striker Thierry Henry who scored twice in a 4-0 rout over the Black-and-Red at RFK Stadium. It was a bitter end to his first derby, but it gave Hamid an ample supply of gasoline to add to the fire of the rivalry. With English Premier League icon Wayne Rooney now on the D.C. United team sheet and midfielders Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola, Yamil Asad and Zoltán Stieber firing on all cylinders, the Black-and-Red are in prime form for the match against high-flying New York (15-6-4, 49 pts.).
“They’ve had some stars on their team and you’ve seen it on the field,” Hamid said. “Now I think it’s going to be very equal. I think the way we’re playing right now as a group is bigger than any one individual player, and I think it’s the same for them.”
It didn’t take long for Hamid to find success against the Red Bulls and the disappointment of the first match led to a reinvigorated performance by Hamid and the Black-and-Red later that season when they beat the Red Bulls 1-0 on July 9 at Red Bull Arena. Hamid’s four saves and Dwayne De Rosario’s 61st minute game-winner gave the Homegrown goalkeeper his first shutout and win in enemy territory.
Since 2011, Hamid has played in 15 regular season fixtures against the New York Red Bulls. He has recorded 57 saves and has three career shutouts versus the rivals. Hamid has also experienced his fair share of drama in the Atlantic Cup and has been on the receiving end of a red card twice in fixture history—a statistic that shows the tense nature of the rivalry.
This time around, Hamid will look to continue his fine form since returning to the team and starting XI on Aug. 15 in the 4-1 win against Portland. He’s played two matches since D.C. United acquired him on a year-and-a-half loan, with both games resulting in wins for the Black-and-Red. The 2-0 win against New England on Aug. 19 was the team’s first shutout since the 1-0 win against Columbus on April 14, and fans were given a glimpse of a motivated and revamped backline with the addition of Hamid.
“They have a good young squad. They have a lot of energy and there’s a lot of eyes on their players,” Hamid said of the Red Bulls. “It’s going to be a task for both teams and I think there’s going to be some very good football.”