The 2015 Major League Soccer season marks the sixth professional seasons for two of the league’s bright young goalkeepers.
DC United’s Bill Hamid and the Chicago Fire’s Sean Johnson both made their debuts for their respective clubs in 2010. The pair have now played over a hundred times for their teams and are the backbones to each.
Last season, Hamid was key to United’s success as the Red and Black finished first in the Eastern Conference and third overall in MLS. His solid play also led to his first individual honors in the league as he took home the Goalkeeper of the Year Award. The year previous, Hamid helped the club to the US Open Cup, his first club trophy.
The 24-year-old has had a solid started in 2015 by collecting three clean sheets in four games. He is currently third in the league in saves (17) behind San Jose’s David Bingham (20) and Toronto’s Joe Bendik (19). His steadily play has already powered United to the top of the East and against Orlando last week, Hamid thwarted numerous chances as his defence was cut to pieces by the Lions’ attack.
Johnson on the other hand, has had less success this season as his Fire sit three places behind Hamid’s first place United. Six points from five matches, Johnson has contributed one clean sheet to go along with eight saves.
This week an eye-catching story courtesy of MLS’s website, outlined Fire coach Frank Yallop’s beliefs that it is a possibility Johnson could move abroad in the near future. While it made good content for the website, the fourth round SuperDraft pick from 2010 looks less a sure thing than Hamid.
Now into their sixth seasons, Hamid looks the more polished of the two goalkeepers. Excellent reflexes and the ability to save shots from both close and long ranges, his skills set are typical of what has made goalkeeper the top position for Americans.
Those attributes led both Italian and English clubs to be linked with United’s No. 1 last January. According to TransferMarkt.com, Hamid’s transfer value currently sits just below $1,000,000; an increase of around $900,000 since his arrival in the league at 19. However, Hamid may walk away from United for free at the end of this season as the goalkeeper’s contract expires this year.
Hamid’s excellent output and cheap price, make him a steal for United. Something they will need to pay more for, if the club hopes to retain his services. Currently paid at $114,750 per season, in reality Hamid is worth Designated Player money.
As of this season, Hamid is the longest serving Homegrown Player in the MLS. HGP is a term often overused by MLS’s marketing team as numerous players have received the tag in recent times. However, DC United can claim Hamid as the first player to emerge from their academy and into the first team. He made that debut just eight months after signing his first professional contract. An improved contract was signed in 2011 and now with less than 12 months to go on it, United could lose their most valuable asset.
In terms of goalkeepers, Hamid is just starting his career. While it would be honorable for United to let Hamid leave on a free-transfer next January to pursue his soccer dreams in Europe, the club need a player of his calibre to remain in tow.
This is the face of a franchise and should be paid like one from next season. If his mind isn’t already made up, which it may well be, United should do everything to keep him around for the next six seasons of his career. With a new stadium in the pipeline and an improved squad under Ben Olsen, United need the steady hand and marketable personality of Hamid in the nation’s capital.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @Calciofarmer. Drew Farmer is a Manchester, England-based journalist/blogger and podcast host for ForzaItalianFootball.com. Originally from Southwest Missouri, Drew covers Italy’s Serie A and the USA’s Major League Soccer.
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