However, in a deal weeks in the making and announced Monday, United paid a transfer fee to reacquire Hamid’s rights and signed him to a three-year contract.
Financial details were not disclosed, but people close to the three-way negotiations said United agreed to pay $750,000 to Midtjylland and make Hamid perhaps the highest-paid goalkeeper in MLS.
With Tim Howard’s retirement, Atlanta’s Brad Guzan is the current leader with guaranteed compensation in 2019 of $740,000. Hamid, 29, made $487,000 this year, according to the MLS Players Association.
“Bringing Bill back to the club in 2020 and beyond was a top priority for us this offseason,” Dave Kasper, United’s general manager and vice president of soccer operations, said in a written statement. “He is among the best goalkeepers in MLS and he resonates with fans and the community, and we know he is going to be an important piece at the club for the foreseeable future."
Hamid shared the league lead in shutouts (14) with Guzan and was third in goals against average (1.12). He started all but one regular season match this year, and since rejoining United in August 2018 he has been in the lineup for 47 of 49 games.
The first homegrown signing in United history, in 2009, Hamid was a regular starter through the 2017 season before leaving as a free agent. He signed with Midtjylland but played sparingly for the first team, prompting a 1½-year loan arrangement to return to United late in the 2018 season.
Hamid is United’s all-time leader in most goalkeeping categories, including starts (231), minutes played (20,589), victories (87), saves (819) and shutouts (68). In 2014, he was selected to MLS’s Best XI all-star team and voted goalkeeper of the year. This season, he finished second in the voting behind Minnesota’s Vito Mannone.
This offseason, United also re-signed backup goalkeeper Chris Seitz and said it was in talks to retain third-string Earl Edwards Jr.
United still has much work to do before training camp opens on Jan. 18. Frédéric Brillant, a starting center back, has agreed to a new contract, multiple people said, but the organization must still decide whether to pay a transfer fee, estimated at $2.5 million, for midfielder Lucas Rodríguez, who was on loan last season from Argentina’s Estudiantes.
United is also pursuing a creative midfielder to replace Luciano Acosta, whose contract expired, and another forward to help fill the void left by Wayne Rooney, who joined Derby County as a player and assistant coach. Ola Kamara is slated to start in place of the English superstar, but there are currently no other strikers under contract.