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Wednesday Freedom Kicks: Houston Dynamo name Ben Olsen as Head Coach

The Ben Olsen edition of Freedom Kicks

DC United v Atlanta United - 2018 MLS Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

Before we recognize today is Wednesday, be sure to check out Tuesday’s After Dark edition of Freedom Kicks.

Now, today, the Wednesday we all know to be here. We’re going to do something a little different and dedicate it to one topic, a D.C. legend who some of us thought would never leave the District: Ben Olsen. I hope that, since Olsen himself is not returning to D.C. United in any capacity, the commentariat may be free to discuss their thoughts on this man more freely, without the conflicted feelings of how their thoughts relate to their favorite local soccer team.

In case you’ve been a little distant from the news over the last week or so, allow me to share with you the news made official yesterday:

Ben Olsen has been named the Houston Dynamo Head Coach

From MLS, ESPN, and Houston Dynamo, Ben Olsen has indeed officially appeared with a logo that is not from the District of Columbia.

I know the consensus back in 2020 was that it was most definitely time to move on from Coach Olsen, thus ending 23 years of Olsen playing a part in D.C. United’s then-25-year history. Olsen himself would tell you he was probably a little burned out by 2020, but after 2021’s brief tenure as Club President of the Washington Spirit (at which time, the Spirit went undefeated and won the championship), and a little stint on the sidelines reporting for ESPN, Olsen was “itching to get back” to the locker room. His wry smile makes a comeback to MLS as he is aware the phrase “Bennyball” will return to people’s lips.

Ben Olsen walks into a hot seat as the fourth head coach for Houston in 370 days. Jason Anderson writes over at Pro Soccer Wire of the challenges Olsen will have to overcome. The DP slots are already full, so Olsen will likely have to make do with a lot of the players already on the roster.

Houston fans seem to be coming around to the idea of Coach Olsen after the press conference. I choose to believe this was all Ryan Keefer’s doing when he spoke with Dynamo Theory about what kind of coach they’re getting. Let’s not forget, Olsen was able to make the playoffs in 6 of his 10 seasons as coach, and only three seasons were truly bad (and one of those three seasons still had a trophy). That’s not a record worthy of ignoring. Houston is in need of a cultural shift away from complacency, and Ben Olsen is downright antithetical to complacency. This will hopefully indeed be a new era for the Houston Dynamo.

I don’t know what the future has in store for Ben Olsen and Houston. I’ll be rooting for them as my favorite Western Conference team (something I actually did while listening to the MLS Cup on the radio back in 2007, which incidentally was won in RFK Stadium). Ben Olsen deserves another shot at coaching, and I am hopeful he’ll pass with flying colors, even if those colors are orange instead of black and red.

At the very least, Houston will at least be the latest city to be exposed to Ben Olsen’s art.