Olsen confirmation lends stability to DC's busy offseason

WASHINGTON – While there is plenty of work ahead in D.C. United’s offseason, there’s at least one hole the team doesn’t have to fill: the head coach position.

“This time last year was very difficult and you can’t do a lot of planning,” general manager Dave Kasper said of last year’s coaching search. “Now we can get right after it – we know what we have here and know what we need to try and accomplish next year. That’s a huge plus for us.”

First-year coach Ben Olsen’s job was never in doubt, and he’ll work closely with the rest of the team’s technical staff to identify and help build a team to compete in 2012.

“Benny did a terrific job,” Kasper said last week. “He got every ounce of performance and effort out of the team. We have great starting points for next year.”

Less than two years removed from ending his storied playing career of his own, Olsen led D.C. to a respectable 9-13-13 record, a vast improvement over the club’s 2010 season, the worst in its history.

But despite the improvement, there was still a lingering disappointment over missing the postseason, as the team slipped out of contention with five losses in their last six games.

“I’m also pretty hard on myself and know that I could have gotten this team into the playoffs,” Olsen said. “Maybe that’s the part that was green on my end, not knowing how to get them to the playoffs. As we as a group get better, I will get better as well.”

And while the team featured a number of young and inexperienced players, their coach was also in that category, figuring things out as the season progressed.

“Every day is a new challenge,” Olsen said. “Fortunately, every game and every practice is a learning experience for me as well. I’m not in over my head, I’ll tell you that much. I feel partly proud for what I’ve done this year.”

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.