In a move that makes tons of sense for all parties involved, Josh Wolff announced his retirement from professional soccer today, and will be joining former teammate Ben Olsen as a full-time assistant coach on the sidelines.
"I was lucky enough to play alongside Josh since we were teenagers and we were able to share some incredible experiences, playing in the Olympics and a World Cup as teammates," Olsen said in a press release on dcunited.com today. "He had a wonderful career both for the national team and in MLS and I consider him one of my oldest friends. I am extremely excited that he’s joining our staff full-time. He brings a fresh perspective that will continue to help both this club and me."
The veteran forward struggled with injuries this season, making only one start in nine appearances. But Wolff was a huge part of the team last year, scoring five goals and seven assists in 23 starts. He provided a veteran influence on the field for a team full of youth. He'll continue to do the same now, but he'll be doing it instead from the sidelines.
Wolff is also responsible for probably the most iconic image from United's 2011 season. Jumping shirtless into the stands at RFK Stadium after scoring a goal in our opening match was a memorable moment from an otherwise mostly forgettable season.
Wolff is now removing the "Player Slash" from his title and will now focus his full attention on coaching. With so many young and talented attacking players on the United roster, this can only be seen as a positive. We've already seen elements of Chris Pontius' game that can be attributed to his relationship with Wolff, and now we might see even more.
Ownership might also deserve some credit for making this move possible. Just like Kurt Morsink's retirement and subsequent hiring to be a Scouting Coordinator, Wolff is accepting a newly created position. He's not replacing another coach on the roster - as far as we know, Chad Ashton and Pat Onstad will each be returning next season. Wolff's addition to the coaching staff is just another example of the commitment that Erick Thohir and Jason Levien have towards giving Olsen the resources he wants and needs to succeed.