All-Star: DC United's Olsen replaces Nowak as head coach

Ben Olsen

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NEW YORK – Major League Soccer announced on Thursday that D.C. United’s Ben Olsen will serve as the head coach of the MLS All-Stars during their clash against reigning European champions Chelsea next month at PPL Park.

Olsen replaces former Philadelphia Union head coach Peter Nowak after he parted ways with the club earlier this month. Union interim head coach John Hackworth, who was Nowak’s right-hand man in Philadelphia, will serve as Olsen’s assistant coach for the All-Star Game on July 25 on the Union’s home field in Chester, Pa.

The D.C. United technical staff of Chad Ashton, Pat Onstad and Sonny Silooy will also join Olsen on the All-Star bench.

“Ben Olsen has experience playing in All-Star Games and he has guided his team to one of the best records in MLS so far this season,” said Nelson Rodríguez, MLS executive vice president of competition and game operations. “He and his staff also have a relatively short distance to travel and his club does not play a league match on the weekend after the All-Star Game.

“Adding John Hackworth at his side strengthens the group that will assemble and prepare our team for this important game.”

Olsen, 35, has piloted D.C. United to the top of the Eastern Conference with nine wins in their first 16 games this season. He took the reins in the nation’s capital midway through the 2010 season and the club narrowly missed the postseason last year, but a resurgence this season from the league’s most storied club has Olsen in the early running as a candidate for Coach of the Year.

“This is a huge honor,” said Olsen, who is a native of Harrisburg, Pa. “This league has been a major part of my life, both as a player and now as a coach, and it’s given me a lot. Ultimately, this recognition comes because of my team and my staff, but to represent the league on a big stage like this is a real privilege.”

Olsen was a five-time All Star and appeared in the midsummer showcase twice as a player with D.C. United, coming off the bench in 1998 and then earning a start in 1999.

Olsen and D.C. United take on the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium on July 21, while Hackworth and the Union play against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena the same day.