Washington, D.C. – D.C. United announced today the club has named Ben Olsen as Head Coach. Olsen takes over the reigns of the Black-and-Red on a permanent basis after serving as Interim Head Coach since August 4 following the dismissal of Curt Onalfo. He is the seventh head coach in club history.
“We spent a great deal of time on this decision and interviewed a number of qualified candidates. The more we talked about what we were looking for in the next coach of D.C. United, the more we talked about Ben Olsen as a candidate for the job, in spite of our prior public stance,” said United President and CEO Kevin Payne. “Ultimately, we became convinced that Ben’s commitment, intelligence and understanding of what it means to be a part of D.C. United outweighed his limited coaching experience. We’re confident that he will do an outstanding job.”
“Ben showed us that he could lead this team during his role as an Interim Head Coach last season. He possesses the necessary qualities to take this club forward and we are excited for him to get to work,” said United General Manager Dave Kasper. “We believe that Ben’s appointment will begin a new chapter of success at D.C. United.”
Olsen launched his coaching career prior to the 2010 MLS campaign as an assistant under Onalfo. The former United midfielder immediately joined the coaching ranks following his retirement as a player on November 24, 2009. Olsen made his MLS debut as Interim Head Coach on August 7 at New England in a 2-0 loss to the Revolution. Olsen earned his first career victory on August 22 at RFK Stadium in a 2-0 triumph over the Philadelphia Union. He compiled a 3-8-1 record on an interim basis, guiding the club’s crop of talented young players, including 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year Andy Najar.
“This club means a great deal to me from my playing days and to be asked to lead the team is an honor,” said Olsen. “I’m extremely excited and plan to prove that I was the right choice for this position.”
[inline_lightbox:10742]As a player, Olsen was amongst the club’s all-time leaders in several key categories at the time of his retirement – second in games played (221), minutes played (17,098) and game-winning goals (13), third in assists (49) and shots on goal (155), and seventh all-time in goals (29). Arguably the most popular player in United history, the midfielder won eight total trophies while in DC, including two MLS Cups (1999 & 2004). He was a two-time All-Star (1998 & 1999), the 1998 MLS Rookie of the Year, the 1999 MLS Cup MVP, the 2003 USSF Humanitarian of the Year and was named to the MLS Best XI in 2007.
In addition to his storied career with United, Olsen also had an illustrious career with the U.S. Men’s National Team. He made his full international debut against Australia on November 6, 1998. His first goal for the U.S. came in just his second international game when he tallied against Chile on February 21, 1999. In 2000, he was part of the team that reached the bronze medal game at the Sydney Olympics before falling to Chile. Olsen was selected to the 2006 World Cup team and played 51 minutes in the team’s final match against Ghana. All told, the midfielder earned 37 caps and six goals with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Prior to his professional career, from 1995-1997, Olsen spent three seasons at the University of Virginia. During his time with the Cavaliers, the team posted a 56-8-8 record. During this time the midfielder compiled 34 goals to accompany 41 assists, starting every game (69) of his collegiate career. After his junior season, he was named the 1997 Soccer America Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Hermann Trophy. He was also named as the ACC Tournament MVP and selected to the NSCAA All-American first-team after his senior season.