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Ben Olsen Makes His Debut As United's Head Coach

Foxborough, MA (Sports Network) - Ben Olsen makes his coaching debut Saturday night for D.C. United, which fired coach Curt Onalfo earlier this week after a 3-12-3 start in his first season in charge.

Olsen retired following a 12-year career at United last season and started his coaching career as an assistant this year under Onalfo. Now, the former United States international will try to turn United's season around.

D.C., winless in six straight and shut out 12 times this year, visits Gillette Stadium to battle the New England Revolution this weekend.

Although D.C. is 25 points behind the first-place Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference, the struggling side trails New England and the Philadelphia Union by just three points.

Olsen is used to winning as a player, he helped United win the MLS Cup in 1999 and 2004, and D.C. President and CEO Kevin Payne felt a change was needed.

"This was a difficult and painful decision. Curt is an outstanding person and a fine coach," Payne said. "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."

Olsen has been in charge for just a few days, so it's tough to know how he'll make his mark on D.C. this weekend. Branko Boskovic was added as a designated player and Argentine forward Pablo Hernandez was signed this month as well, so Olsen has new talent at his disposal.

New England (4-9-3) qualified for the SuperLiga final with a 5-3 penalty kick win over Puebla following a 1-1 draw Wednesday, and has a six-match undefeated streak in all competitions.

The Revolution tied Philadelphia in their last league match, 1-1, and will try to sweep the season series with United.

New England may be without starters Kevin Alston and Marko Perovic, after the duo left the field during the SuperLiga match against Puebla. That would be a blow for Revs coach Steve Nicol, who is also in need of league points.

"That's unfortunate," New England midfielder Pat Phelan said. "Hopefully, it's not too bad with either Kevin or Marko because we have a big game Saturday."