Ben Olsen will no longer serve as head coach of D.C. United, but will stay on in another role with the club he first joined as a player in 1998.
D.C. United said in a statement Thursday, “Assistant coach Chad Ashton will assume the role of interim manager. While Olsen will no longer move forward as the head coach of D.C. United, he and the club are working together to determine a new role for him within the organization.”
The decision to end Olsen’s run as head coach, which started in 2010, was made a day after Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to NYFC at Yankees Stadium.
The Black and Red is bottom of Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference and has the worst record in the league. D.C. United conceded four goals in each of its last two games, and the club was winless in its last six matches.
Olsen was the second-longest tenured coach in MLS, but he understood the pressure he was facing with a club struggling to perform even with a playoff position within reach.
“We have sharp owners, and they know what’s best for this club,” Olsen said after Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Atlanta. “And when my time is done, it’ll be done. It’s as simple as that.”
Olsen’s time is done as head coach, but included in his contract was stipulation that he would continue with the team in another role. It would be hard to imagine D.C. United without some connection to Olsen.
As a player, Olsen, who originally hails from central Pennsylvania, embraced D.C., and he and his wife Megan are raising their three kids in the District.
Back in 1998, Olsen joined D.C. United from the University of Virginia and he went on to make more than 200 appearances for the club over 12 seasons. Olsen was part of league championship winning teams in 1999 and 2004 before retiring as a player after the 2009 season.
In 2010, Olsen switched to coaching and was an assistant on Curt Onalfo’s staff, but ended up in charge on an interim basis after Onalfo was fired in September of that year. D.C. United President Kevin Payne had faith in Olsen and made him permanent head coach before the 2011 season.
Olsen had success as coach. He led D.C. United to a U.S. Open Cup title in 2013 and was named MLS coach of the year in 2014. D.C. United did make the playoffs five of the last six seasons Olsen was in charge, but they had not won a postseason game since 2015.
Editor’s note: Dave Johnson does the play-by-play for D.C. United.