[MLS] A year ago, Ben Olsen retired as a player to assume duties as an assistant coach for D.C. United, the only club he'd served during more than a decade of MLS play. From assistant coach he went to interim head coach. Now he's set to stay at the helm to rebuild the struggling club.
The Washington Post Insider broke the story Sunday morning that Olsen would be retained. The team has scheduled a Monday press conference at which Olsen, whom president and CEO Kevin Payne said last month wasn’t ready to be a head coach, will be formally named to take the team into an uncertain and possibly perilous future.
Olsen, 33, took over for ex-head coach Curt Onalfo midway through the 2010 season, with United mired at the bottom of the overall standings with a 3-12-3 record and a string of lackluster, confused performances. Under Olsen, United compiled a 3-8-1 mark as the former D.C. and U.S. midfielder gained at least a measure of confidence in his ability to organize and motivate a team.
Payne and general manager Dave Kasper were impaired in their coaching search by finances – the team is committed to pay off Onalfo’s three-year deal – as well as perceptions around the league that what had been among the league’s most successful franchises has devolved into one of its eyesores.
There’s been little or no progress on a stadium deal, the team has announced that striker Danny Allsopp won’t be returning to the team, and aside from Rookie of the Year Andy Najar and a few other exceptions the roster is thin on talent.
United picked up what could be a key rebuilding component last week when it traded defender/midfielder Rodney Wallace and a 2011 fourth-round draft pick to the expansion Portland Timbers for midfielder Dax McCarty, who’d been claimed in the expansion draft from FC Dallas, and allocation money.
McCarty, 23, started in central midfield for FCD the past two seasons and has played 93 regular-season games since FCD drafted him out of the University of North Carolina in 2006.