If the arrival of striker Wayne Rooney set the Black-and-Red faithful ablaze during the summer of 2018, then the second-most popular move was surely the decision to reacquire goalkeeper Bill Hamid on loan from FC Midtjylland. The loan deal became official Aug. 8, 2018, and Hamid reassumed his spot in goal a week later. He hasn’t relinquished it since.
Hamid returned to United for the 2019 season and promptly put forth the best season of his career, a season his coach, Ben Olsen, believed was worthy of league-wide acclaim.
“I think he should have been the Goalkeeper of the Year,” Olsen said during his final media session. “For some reason, I think he has a little bit of a villain tag to him (and that’s why) he doesn’t get that. But that’s OK, that’s part of Bill, and I think Bill understands that. I think Bill understands he had a great year.”
Hamid finished second in Goalkeeper of the Year voting behind Vito Mannone of Minnesota United. He was the clear favorite among media members with 23.3% of their vote — no other player eclipsed 13.7% percent in that category — but lagged behind in the club vote (12.2%) and player vote (4.5%) to fall short on the cumulative total.
Trophy or not, Hamid’s performance was sublime, and without him United would have found it difficult to reach the postseason. He was arguably the most consistent performer on Olsen’s squad this season and embodied the defensive identity the Black-and-Red adopted during their playoff push.
“I always talk with Bill about not getting too high, not getting too low, staying within what makes you one of the best goalkeepers in this league,” Olsen said. “It’s being hungry, it’s being a great shot stopper, it’s managing his body, it’s staying level-headed and being disciplined. ... To see him now be very mature in how he goes about his job, it’s nice to see. It’s rewarding. I’m a big fan of him and hope he can stick around.”
With plenty of roster work to be done between now and January, now is an ideal time to reflect on this year’s roster before general manager Dave Kasper unveils a new one in the coming months. This is the sixth in a series of stories analyzing the Black-and-Red position by position.
Next up, the goalkeepers.
Any way you slice it, the 2019 season will go down as the strongest of Hamid’s career. He set new personal bests in games played, starts, minutes played, shutouts and saves in a performance reminiscent of 2014, when Hamid was named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. On a broader scale, Hamid ranked at or near the top of the league in just about every statistical category. He led MLS in save percentage at 77.3% while facing more shots (568) than anyone in the league, including the fifth-most shots on target. This marked the third time in Hamid’s career he has saved at least 77% of shots in a season while playing at least 2,000 minutes. His best save percentage came in 2012, when Hamid turned away 78.6% of shots. Hamid ranked sixth among goalkeepers this season in clearances with 28 and demonstrated sturdy hands when necessary with a superb ratio of 27 catches against only two drops. He posted eight games with 8 or more saves and four games with at least 10 saves. Prior to this year, Hamid had only one game with 10-plus saves in his entire United career, dating to his rookie season in 2010. The magnitude of his performances felt even larger during the team’s five-match unbeaten streak to close the regular season, during which Hamid excelled at “pulling off something spectacular once or twice in a game,” as he described his mentality earlier in the year. No save was better or more crucial than Hamid’s sprawling, finger-tip deflection against the New York Red Bulls after a snapshot threatened the upper-right corner of his goal. Hamid has also worked diligently with director of goalkeeping Zach Thornton to improve the distribution with his feet. By season’s end, Hamid had posted the second-best passing accuracy percentage (56.5%) of his career, bested only by 2018. The lone blemish on his 2019 resume was an uncharacteristic performance in the playoffs.
Kasper acquired Seitz in a trade with the Houston Dynamo in January that swapped United’s second-round pick (No. 33 overall) in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft for a veteran goalkeeper to play behind Hamid. At 32 years old, Seitz brought valuable experience and leadership to the Black-and-Red as his MLS career entered its 13th season. He had been a full-time starter in 2016, for FC Dallas, and in 2010, for the Philadelphia Union, before spending the last two seasons as a backup with Dallas and the Dynamo, respectively. Seitz appeared in one game for United and earned a victory over FC Cincinnati in July. He also started the club’s handful of friendly matches and made one appearance for USL affiliate Loudoun United. Seitz brought an exceedingly professional work ethic and character to the Black-and-Red’s dressing room and was well-liked by teammates in his first year with the club.
Earl Edwards Jr. — Acquired via trade with Orlando City SC last December, Edwards served as the No. 3 goalkeeper behind Hamid and Seitz. He never played for the first team but made 16 starts for Loudoun throughout the year. He saved 67% of shots and conceded 29 goals in 1,440 minutes.
Part 1 — Strikers
Part 2 — Central midfielders
Part 3 — Wingers
Part 4 — Fullbacks
Part 5 — Center backs