At this point in history, there is perhaps no name as synonymous with D.C. United as Ben Olsen's. He's one of a very few guys to have etched his name as a legend through the club's highs and lows (and highs again), playing all over the midfield from 1998 through 2009. The very next season, he would join the staff as an assistant coach - so that he could learn the coaching craft under the tutelage of more experience mentors - only to step up as interim head coach when Curt Onalfo was fired midway through the 2010 season.
And he's been at the helm ever since, amassing a record of 82 wins, 45 draws and 89 losses in all competitions. For those keeping score at home, each of those numbers is the most in United history. Of course, he also led the team to the U.S. Open Cup during the otherwise terrible 2013 season.
It was after that season that Ben Olsen and general manager Dave Kasper sat down with D.C. United managing partner Jason Levien with their jobs on the line. After a series of misses with foreign acquisitions, the pair sold Levien on rebuilding the team around proven MLS talent.
Since essentially being forced to re-interview for his job at the end of 2013, Olsen guided the Black-and-Red to consecutive playoff berths. United, of course, was the best team in the Eastern Conference through the 2014 regular season and finished fourth this year. Both seasons ended in conditions that no United fan will want to relive: playoff losses to the New York Red Bulls.
Over the course of those two seasons, only the LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas have amassed more points in MLS than los Capitalinos. Considering the lack of any Robbie Keane, Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Fabain Castillo or Maruo Diaz, some large share of the credit for that record has to go to Ben Olsen.
But, winning doesn't cure all for some, and United's style over the last two years - a throwback 442 focused first on preventing the opposing attack from creating quality chances (and then on using the genius of Bill Hamid to survive an undue number of quality chances that are created) - has its detractors.
It's these detractors who throw the word "Bennyball" around more than anyone else. They cite the defense-first posture, the lack of a true creative presence in midfield and the more fluid attacks of other teams as the core aspects of the system. Which, fine. All of those are issues, to be sure, but focusing on them to the exclusion of the fact that the team's results have overperformed the roster incredibly over two full seasons or Olsen's experimenting with more progressive midfield shapes every year he's been in charge is a mistaken approach.
After two straight years going out at the quarterfinal stage of the MLS Cup playoffs - and both to the Metros - those demanding changes aren't totally out of bounds. With word on the street that the club has its eye on an Argentine playmaker this winter, we might see the team move toward a more attacking system for 2016. Or we might not. The question we're here to discuss today, though, is whether we think Ben Olsen should be the man in charge when 2016 comes, or whether his position should be one of the changes.
So vote in the poll and then take to the comments.