D.C. United announced on Thursday that Ben Olsen, the longest tenured head coach in team history, has extended his contract with the team through 2021. Olsen, who has spent his entire professional career as a member of the Black-and-Red, extended his contract by two years with the club, with his original deal, signed back in September of 2014, set to end after the 2019 season.
Olsen has been at the helm of the club that drafted him in 1998 since the start of the 2011 season. The season before, he was an assistant under Curt Onalfo, before taking over on an interim basis in August 2010, after Onalfo was let go by the club. Olsen has one trophy to his credit as a manager, guiding his historically bad 2013 team to the US Open Cup that year.
“I am proud and humbled to have been associated with this club for the last 21 years,” Olsen said in a quote that was provided in the press release announcing his extension. “I am thrilled that ownership has shown faith in the path my staff and I are taking with this extension.”
In his 8 full years as head coach, Olsen’s teams have made the playoffs five times, including four of the past five years. The closest United got to getting to MLS Cup, a trophy they have won four times, was in 2012, when United lost the Eastern Conference Finals to the Houston Dynamo over two legs. United have not been back to the Cup final since 2004, when they won their fourth championship.
In 2018, Olsen had to endure a first half of hardships, as he tried to make do with a team that played 12 of the first 14 games of the season on the road. United were in dead last when Audi Field finally opened, but with the signing of Wayne Rooney, Olsen saw his team jump all the way into fourth place in the East, before falling in the knockout round game at home to the Columbus Crew in penalties.
“I am very pleased that Ben will continue to lead us on the field, and I look forward to working with him as we aim to add more hardware to our club’s rich history,” United’s General Manager and VP of Soccer Operations Dave Kasper said in the release.
With the extension, Olsen will continue to oversee the growth of the club, as it catches up to the rest of the league after being hindered by RFK Stadium for so many years. After opening up Audi Field in 2018, United will see their own USL team, Loudoun United FC, begin play this year. And later this year, the team will finally have a practice facility of their own, when new digs are opened up along with the LUFC Stadium in Loudoun County.
Olsen is currently the second longest tenured coach with one team in MLS, with only Peter Vermes, of Sporting Kansas City, having a longer stint with a club. Should Olsen see out his contract, he would surpass former New England Revolution manager Steve Nicol’s league record of 10 seasons in a row with a club.
“Our aim is to continue to put a team on the field that our fans and community will identify with and be proud of,” added Olsen in the release. “The major goal, however, remains the same since the day I took the job and that’s to bring trophies back to D.C.”