Goalie keeps his cool in tumultuous season

Bill Hamid said his girlfriend has been coaxing him into Barnes & Noble lately. Among the shelves of books, he's found some peace and respite from the field, where it's been nothing but turmoil for D.C. United (1-8-1, 4 points) during a franchise-record seven-game losing streak.

But the 22-year-old is also simply growing up. In his fourth season, he's far more composed and comfortable than when he first turned professional. In contrast to his often fierce, intimidating presence in the net, the goalkeeper calmly rode the wave last week of losing his starting job for the first time all season to days later being named to the latest U.S. national team roster.

"Of course it affects it," Hamid said when asked whether his form with D.C. United should influence his national team status. "Obviously you want your team to do well and you want to be playing as lights-out as possible. But things don't always go your way. You've just got to keep grinding and keep working and good things will happen."

Up next
Sporting Kansas City at D.C. United
When » Sunday, 5 p.m.
Where » RFK Stadium
TV » Univision Deportes

It's unclear whether United coach Ben Olsen will stick with Joe Willis -- who played well despite a 2-1 loss at FC Dallas last weekend -- or return to Hamid against Sporting Kansas City (6-4-2, 20 points).

"Bill has been very mature about the way he's handling this stretch," Olsen said. "Look, he's not the only one here who's had a hiccup or two. This isn't on Bill. To Bill's credit, he's had a couple games where he's really still been the best player on the field. We've just got to get him a little more consistent, but he has that ability."

While Hamid didn't want to sit last weekend, he admitted that the season's tough start was taking its toll. Whether it's a coincidence or not, Hamid said he's just started reading "Awaken the Giant Within," a personal psychology book by Anthony Robbins.

"It was good to sit on the side and breathe a little bit," Hamid said.

For his part, Willis validated his minutes and he'll likely be in the net on the road against the Chicago Fire while Hamid is with the U.S. team facing Germany at RFK Stadium on June 2.

"I think it's a healthy competition," Willis said. "We're good for each other in that sense, in that we're always pushing each other throughout the week during practice so neither one of us ever wants to have an off day. I think we take our practice a lot more seriously that way."

For Hamid, the competition with D.C. United could help prepare him to be at his best in limited time with the national team, where third goalkeepers will be rotated and first-time minutes could be won for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July.

"We'll see," Hamid said. "You come in and show what you've got."

Notes » After balking at a return last weekend, midfielder Chris Pontius (groin) is ready to return after a three-game absence.

"For me, it's the best I've felt since the injury actually happened," Pontius said.

Nick DeLeon could also be back in the starting lineup, where United lost Marcelo Saragosa for six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.