29 days 'til MLS: Young coaches have to catch up to Olsen
As the MLS season approaches, MLSsoccer.com marks each passing day with a different statistic, observation or talking point, setting the stage for March 2.
29 – Ben Olsen's regular-season win total as manager of D.C. United
They like 'em young in MLS.
In recent years, a handful of clubs have opted to hand over the reins of their squads to former players who were standardbearers. And age is no issue.
Real Salt Lake broke new ground in 2007, hiring 35-year-old Jason Kreis. New England's Jay Heaps was also 35 when he was given the keys to the Revolution last year. And this year, the New York Red Bulls latched onto the trend, giving their top job to 37-year-old Mike Petke.
But none of these names can reach the precocious heights of D.C. United's 35-year-old Ben Olsen. While some of his young peers were still getting jobs at age 35, he already has 29 wins under his belt and all or part of three seasons as the boss at RFK Stadium (he was given the interim tag in August of 2010).
Olsen helped his team cobble together three wins to end 2010 during the worst season in club history when he took over for Curt Onalfo. After he was confirmed as head coach, he slowly began picking up the pieces in 2011 and was unlucky to watch his team collapse at the very end to narrowly miss out on the postseason.
But 2012 was his masterpiece, as D.C. finally assumed Olsen's trademark grit to overcome a long-term injury to then-reigning MVP Dwayne De Rosario and halt a five-year playoff drought with a 17-win season.
The total of 29 DC wins on Olsen's watch are the most by any manager 35 or younger in league history. And now with club pride finally restored in D.C. and Olsen's imprint firmly established, there's no reason to believe that there won't be plenty more where those came from.