WASHINGTON - AUGUST 22: Head coach Ben Olsen of D.C. United directs his players against Philadelphia Union at RFK Stadium on August 22 2010 in Washington DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)

Ben Olsen Named D.C. United's Next Head Coach

One month after being ruled out as a candidate, Ben Olsen will have his interim tag removed and will become D.C. United's next head coach.

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Ben Olsen Officially Named As D.C. United's Permanent Head Coach

What was merely reported yesterday has now become official: Ben Olsen will have his interim tag removed and will become D.C. United's next head coach. The team announced the decision in a press release earlier Monday morning.

"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 in the release. "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."    

The move is truly shocking on a number of levels. For one, Olsen's team went just 3-8-2 down the stretch last season, though they did seem to be playing harder for Olsen than they were for former coach Curt Onalfu. But the most shocking part is that Payne said a little more than month ago that Olsen would not be considered for the vacancy. Here's what Payne said then, as noted by Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner (emphasis mine):

"Ben is not a candidate. Ben has dealt with the situation exactly as I thought Ben would deal with the situation, which is why we asked Ben to step in front of that particular bus. It was a pretty thankless situation, the way we laid it out to him, and he embraced it as he always does, and he did what was best for D.C. United. Ben will have his opportunity at some point, but I really want him to have his chance to be very, very successful when he starts. That's not to say he couldn't be successful now, but the likelihood is less than if he gets more experience and has a chance to learn more about the profession of coaching. It is a profession. I know it looks very easy to everybody out there. It's a lot more art than science. It's not a coincidence that the most successful coaches in this league, Bruce [Arena], in particular, and Sigi [Schmid], they had tremendous years of coaching experience before they ever came into the league. Both achieved highest levels of success. Younger coaches, when things go south or they have to deal with players, it's hard for them to deal with because they haven't done it before. All of a sudden, they've having to learn it on a bigger stage... It's not in any way a reflection on Ben."

So what caused the change of heart? SB Nation's D.C. United blog Black and Red United is worried that Olsen was given the job by default.

This really makes you wonder how many of the candidates had either declined the position, or rejected a United offer that was below market value.    

Ultimately, Olsen could end up being a great coach, and he certainly has the energy and passion for the job. But it raises big questions when the team hires him just one month after ruling him out as a coaching candidate. 

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Report: Ben Olsen Will Be D.C. United Head Coach

After months of the D.C. United front office claiming that interim head coach Ben Olsen would not be a candidate to retain that position next year, and after interviewing at least seven candidates for the position, the club is reportedly set to remove the interim title from Olsen's name.

According to Steven Goff of the Washington Post, Olsen will be announced as the D.C. United head coach in a press conference tomorrow.

Olsen had an alarmingly poor record as head coach, going 3-8-2 since taking over the role midway through United's 2009 season, but he had his team working harder than it did under former head coach Curt Onalfo, and Olsen cannot be blamed for poor personnel decisions made in the previous offseason.

Following the conclusion of United's worst season in club history, Team President Kevin Payne discussed Olsen's future in the coaching ranks.

"I don't think he's ready. I really believe Ben is going to be a very good coach someday. I just think his brain works the way your brain needs to work to be a successful. He's thoughtful, he looks for reasons why, he understands the mentality of the players, he has a fierce will to win and a competitive streak. But it takes time to understand how to manage a group through a long season. Some of it is technical knowledge, teaching them how to play."

Payne had intended for Olsen to return to his previous role as assistant coach, but evidently he has now changed his mind.

Olsen had 29 goals and 49 assists in 221 career MLS matches, all with D.C. His playing career ended earlier than hoped due to repeated and chronic issues with his ankles and knees. Those challenges may soon seem insignificant to Olsen though, who is undertaking the new challenge now of turning the last place team in the league into a contender.

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