Updated: Feb 27
Get to Know
By RJ Rolsen
Part and parcel with DC United’s mess of a defense in the 2022 season the goalie situation was a complete and utter dumpster fire. Yes the defenders were a train wreck, but they were not helped by a contingent of keepers who kept allowing goals at an alarming rate. This was particularly sad as one of those goalkeepers was team legend and longtime hero, Bill Hamid. For years the original homegrown player had kept the Black and Red in games through his Herculean efforts. However the 2022 season saw this longtime master of the goalmouth begin to make uncharacteristic mistakes. With a weak defense in front of him, the team began to give up too many goals.
When Bill picked up an injury the backup keepers were worse. One was even described by longtime MLS pundit, Matt Doyle, as the worst goalkeeper in MLS history.
There was a brief bit of hope for DC supporters when the team was able to bring in young Mexican American Goalkeeper, David Ochoa. The hope was that the young 21 year old could be DC United’s heir apparent to Hamid, and give DC United a young exciting goalie for a few years before he transferred to Europe. Unfortunately a deal could not be reached with the out of contract player over the winter, and Ochoa moved to Liga MX in Mexico.
Now the team has been active in the offseason and has brought in three new goalkeepers, to give the position a fresh look. Two of the players have extensive MLS experience, and one is you and has shown a lot of potential with the team’s USL Championship affiliate. The hope is that with a better defense in front of them, and more consistent goaltending, the defense for DC United will drastically reduce the number of goals conceded.
For the beginning of the 2023 season, DC United’s Goalkeepers are:
Tyler Miller: The second of the new goalkeepers signed, but most likely the first to earn a start on the opening day team sheet. Tyler Miller has had a decent MLS career, with seven years of experience in the league. The 6’4” goalkeeper made his mark on the league in the inaugural season of Los Angeles FC, and then later with Minnesota United.
Known as a great shot stopper, Miller has made marks with each team he has played for. In two seasons with LAFC, Miller recorded 191 saves and earned 29 clean sheets in 64 MLS appearances. In his three seasons with Minnesota United, Miller made 122 saves and had 12 clean sheets. Unfortunately for him in Minnesota, an injury opened the door for Dayne St. Clair, a young exciting goalie to take the starting position and make it his. The Loons decided to let Miller test free agency, which made him available to DC United.
While not the presence that Bill Hamid offered, Miller’s form between the posts has been better, and his playing time with LAFC and Minnesota United have helped him develop strong foot skills, which is mandatory in how Wayne Rooney wants his goalkeepers to play. Rather unique in MLS, Rooney wants his goalies to play like Sweeper-Keepers. This means you will see the goalie play almost as a third Center-Back at times. How well Miller handles this will go a long way in determining how DC United fair. He has the athletic ability for it, now we will see if he has the mental makeup.
Alex Bono: The last of the new Goalkeepers signed this winter offseason, Alex Bono provides DC United with depth at a position of dire need that it wasn’t able to secure the last few years. Bono was selected sixth by Toronto FC in the 2015 Super Draft and had been with that team since. With Toronto, Bono has a total of 29 clean sheets in 135 regular-season and Audi MLS Cup Playoff appearances.
The eight-year MLS veteran has shown the ability to be an excellent shot stopper, but his form regressed. In 2022, he appeared in 24 games for Toronto recording 86 saves and three clean sheets for the Reds.
In the offseason Toronto Head Coach Bob Bradley decided it was time to move in a new direction, so Bono was available to DC via free agency. Now the 28-year-old will challenge Miller for starting minutes. Not as strong with his feet as the other two goalkeepers, it’s highly likely that Bono will start the season on the bench, providing better than average coverage in case Miller picks up a knock, and also spot coverage in a congested season with the team also taking part in US Open Cup, and Leagues Cup.
Luis Zamudio: The first new Goalkeeper signing in the offseason by DC United was Luis Zamudio who had been the starting goalie for the team's USL Championship affiliate Loudoun United. The 24-year-old Goalie earned this promotion, with 7 shutouts and 103 saves across 27 starts in the second division.
Zamudio trained regularly with DC United’s first team goalkeepers, especially once Rooney took over, and it was considered a certainty that he would be signed by the first team. It could be that Zamudio shows enough that he earns the second seat on the bench, and makes either Bono or Miller available for trade later this summer.
Because of his time with the first team last season, Zamudio is the most familiar with Rooney’s Goalkeeping strategy. Between his natural athleticism and his foot skills, the 24-year-old Goalie is quite capable of excelling as a MLS Goalie. It will be interesting to see if he earns the opportunity.