Alex Bono, Tyler Miller, Luis Zamudio vying for the DC United goalkeeper job


Indio, Calif. — For the better part of 12 years, D.C. United has opened training camp with Bill Hamid at the top of the depth chart and other goaltenders eyeing a backup job. Hamed was losing time with injuries and international call-ups, but for the most part something was in order.

This year’s camp began not only without Hamid but without any of the four guards to watch a game in 2022. The competition for the first-party against Toronto FC in the MLS opener on February 25 features two free agent signings and a candidate promoted from United’s second-place finish. – affiliate division.

“You wouldn’t try to dethrone someone who’s been in office for years, who’s a fan favorite, who’s really loved among men,” said Alex Bono. “The three of us come in with a clean slate.”

Hamid and United parted ways after an injury-shortened 2022 season, ending the second-longest reign for a DC player (behind Jaime Moreno) and 290 games, 80 home runs, including the playoffs. The 32-year-old is still a free agent.

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Bono, 28, arrived after eight seasons in Toronto, where he made 48 appearances over the past two years. Tyler Miller, 29, signed after making 30 starts with Minnesota in 2021 and lost his starting job last year. Luis Zamudio, 24, was the starting goalkeeper for Loudoun United last year while training regularly with the DC side.

When the camp opened, coach Wayne Rooney and goalkeeper coach Diego Restrepo made it clear that the first place was there. Miller and Bono started one preseason game each. Zamudio played a secondary role in the second half, then started the game for 45 minutes.

“For them, it takes about minutes, and whether it’s the next game or the game after that, they will know which one is going to be the starting goalkeeper,” Rooney said. “I have one in mind, but I will discuss it with and with the guys [Restrepo] And make a decision from there.”

After starting the season opener last week, Miller appears to have the advantage. But Bono’s experience and Zamudio’s potential left the race open.

“Wayne told us anyone can play,” said Zamudio. “He doesn’t care how old we are. He’ll play whoever he thinks is best.”

Miller the signature They gave him a full circle. The summer after his freshman year at Northwestern University, he was invited to train informally with United at the RFK Stadium training grounds. His career moved him from a backup role in Seattle to, via the expansion draft, a starting job with Los Angeles FC in 2018 and 2019. He was traded to Minnesota in 2020 and started in 2021 before backing up Dwayne St. Clair last year.

With Miller not playing, United inquired about a deal last summer to provide depth as Hamid recovered from hand surgery, and in his stead neither Rafael Romo nor John Kempin emerged. Instead, D.C Signed a deal with Real Salt Lake for David Ochoaa highly regarded prospect in the final year of his contract.

Offseason negotiations with Ochoa foundered, and on the first day of free agency, Miller said he received calls from CEO Jason Levine, Rooney and a couple of other technical staff members encouraging him to join United.

“I’ve never received this kind of treatment,” said Miller, who signed a two-year agreement. “It’s simple things, but they go a long way.”

Bono’s time with Toronto — which included 135 games through the regular season and playoffs — ended late last season in a reserve role.

“The feeling was on both sides that it was time to move on,” Bono said, adding that “there was no animosity.”

He said he got another bite in free agency, but “I felt really lucky that DC wanted to take me.”

Zamudio’s path began in the youth academy of Mexican Club América. In 2019, he made the matchday first team roster for three matches in Liga MX. His parents are from Mexico, but he was born in Los Angeles and raised in Las Vegas.

He played for US Second and Third Division clubs before excelling with Loudon last year. Thanks to regular internships with DC, “I knew I was on their radar,” he said. “I knew if I had done well I would probably be considered for the first team.”

Once the season was over, he was offered an MLS contract.

Pre-season competition required the favorites to not only make saves and marshal the defense but to start attacking proactively by playing up the field, seizing opportunities and using their feet for quick distribution.

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“I’m an aggressive goalkeeper,” said Miller. “I like to play at the highest level, and for Wayne it’s a step forward. It took a while, but I really feel like I got it right. He’s great about it: if you make a mistake, it’s okay. It’s about reading the game, not playing with fear.” “.

“He wants us to be very brave,” Zamudio added.

The aim is for all three to be in the lineup later this month at Audi Field. For Bono, that means facing his former club.

“That’s a little extra motivation,” he said, smiling. “Going after that spot is even more urgent because I definitely feel like there is unfinished business. You like to play with your old team and try to hold on to it.”

Notes: Polish striker Mateusz Klisch received a work visa and arrived at the camp late on Tuesday. He is set to make his debut on Monday against Los Angeles FC. …

Christian Benteke and Chris Durkin scored in a 3-2 loss to Charlotte on Wednesday. Then, in a 45-minute subs session in Game 1, United drew 1-1 with Vancouver. Scored by rookie Aidan Rocha (Georgetown).

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