Ben Olsen with Julius James

Ben Olsen named interim Head Coach

Washington, D.C. (August 4, 2010) – D.C. United announced today the club has named Ben Olsen as interim Head Coach, following the dismissal of Curt Onalfo. D.C. United’s Technical Director, Chad Ashton, will serve as interim Assistant Coach, while Assistant Coaches Kris Kelderman and Mark Simpson will retain their roles with the club.

“This was a difficult and painful decision,” said United President and CEO Kevin Payne. “Curt is an outstanding person and a fine coach. This has certainly been a trying season, made more so by a number of factors outside of anyone's control. This decision is not about placing blame, but about looking forward. Recent performances have convinced us that we need to make a change at the top for the team to improve the remainder of this season, for 2011 and beyond. We wish Curt nothing but the best.”

Olsen will take on the role of Head Coach immediately, beginning with today’s training session on the RFK Stadium Auxiliary Field and will oversee his first game this Saturday versus the New England Revolution in Foxboro, Mass. The coaching staff and players will be available to media following today’s training session at approximately 10:30 a.m.

“The first priority in appointing an interim coach was ensuring that he would understand the passion, pride and commitment expected from every player who wears a D.C. United uniform,” said Payne. “There is no one better suited for that task than Ben Olsen. We've asked Ben to focus on three objectives for the balance of this season: prepare to win the next game, demand of our players the same commitment to the shirt that he displayed and determine which players demonstrate that they want to play for United next season.”

“It is with mixed emotions that I accept this position,” said Olsen. “Curt is a great friend and coach from whom I’ve learned a great deal. My job now is to get results for D.C. United. I’ll give everything I have to do exactly that.”

Related: Coach Olsen

Olsen’s coaching career began prior to the 2010 MLS campaign as an assistant coach under Onalfo. He joined the coaching ranks following his retirement as a player on November 24, 2009.

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 1995-97, Olsen spent three seasons at the University of Virginia. During his time with the Cavaliers, the team posted a 56-8-8 record. All told, the midfielder compiled 34 goals with 41 assists and started and played 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 year.

Onalfo departs United after seven months at the helm. He compiled a record of 3-12-3 in MLS regular season play. Including U.S. Open Cup play, his record in all official competitions was 7-12-3 and 10-12-3 when including friendlies.