Pat Onstad Joins D.C. United Coaching Staff, Olsen's Army

Former Houston Dynamo and Canadian National Team goalkeeper Pat Onstad will be joining the D.C. United coaching staff, replacing Mark Simpson.

The theme this offseason is "Olsen's Army" and it is continuing to develop.

It started with the acquisition of Dax McCarty, a gritty and aggressive young central midfielder whose play is said to resemble that of Ben Olsen himself. It continued as DC United signed Josh Wolff in the MLS Re-Entry Draft, another hard-working and energetic player to contribute to the attack.

And since I've deemed Olsen's Army the theme for 2011, I'll now try to justify every move that United makes as fitting in that theme. Pat Onstad joining the staff as one of Olsen's assistants is no different.

Assistant coaches come and go, and I've never heard of an assistant coach making or breaking a team. Sure, Onstad is a knowledgeable and leaderlike former goalkeeper who knows a thing or two about winning in MLS. But I have no idea whether he'll be a better coach than Mark Simpson.

The important thing here is that this is Olsen's staff. It's his Army. And I get the impression that he is picking every member of it himself.

Remember when Olsen joined the coaching staff as an assistant under Curt Onalfo last year? Do you think Onalfo had any say in that? I doubt it. My theory is that Kevin Payne told Onalfo that Olsen was going to be his assistant, like it or not. Don't get me wrong. Onalfo probably didn't complain. He probably welcomed Olsen to the staff and was glad to have someone ingrained in the culture of D.C. as one of his assistants. But that doesn't mean he had a choice.

That's not what's happening here with Onstad. Not at all. If Payne was picking Olsen's assistants for him, our new goalkeeping coach would probably be either Tom Presthus or Jeff Causey. Or maybe Zach Wells. Or Quavas Kirk.

This was Olsen's decision. He's been given the power to manage this team, and he's using it to assemble an Army.

Onstad's hiring was just one of several announcements that hit the wire from RFK Stadium today. But on a personal note, its the only one I have time to write about right now, since I've been spending about 90% of my time in the hospital for the past few days.

Since 10:00 am Sunday morning, my five-month old daughter Lyla has been in the care of the folks at Southern Maryland Hospital Center due to a diagnosis of RSV. Almost three days later and she's still struggling to eat and still fighting off fevers, but seems to be improving by the hour and on course for full recovery. It's quite a helpless feeling, and it's more emotionally and physically draining than I would have imagined. Fortunately, the staff at SMHC has been wonderful, especially Sara Heisler, who is not only a great nurse, but an even better friend and advocate. If all goes according to plan (and why would it?), we'll be discharged at some point on Thursday. Home for the holidays is the goal.

I'm not sharing this to ask for your sympathy, and certainly not for your pity. Just relaying why I've been absent recently, and because I'm proud to have this blog as more of a family than most.

Anyway, we've just discovered that the hospital has functioning wifi, so expect to see several new updates from me tomorrow.

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