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D.C. United name Ben Olsen as new head coach

NEW YORK – D.C. United on Monday removed the interim tag from Ben Olsen’s title and officially named the 33-year-old as head coach, the youngest in league history.

Olsen was an assistant for former manager Curt Onalfo at the start of the 2010 season and took over the reins of the team on an interim basis after Onalfo was fired on Aug. 4.

He compiled a 3-8-1 record at the helm of the club in the remaining 12 regular-season matches and was also on the sidelines for a 2-1 US Open Cup semifinal loss in overtime against the Columbus Crew.

D.C. United management had previously indicated that Olsen’s lack of coaching experience would prevent him from taking over the team in a full-time basis in 2011. However, club officials reconsidered their position during the offseason.

“We spent a great deal of time on this decision and interviewed a number of qualified candidates,” D.C. United president and CEO Kevin Payne said in a statement. “The more we talked about what we were looking for in the next coach of D.C. United, the more we talked about Ben Olsen as a candidate for the job, in spite of our prior public stance.

“Ultimately, we became convinced that Ben’s commitment, intelligence and understanding of what it means to be a part of D.C. United outweighed his limited coaching experience. We’re confident that he will do an outstanding job.”

A team legend and fan favorite, Olsen becomes the seventh manager for the club following in the footsteps of Bruce Arena (1996-98), Thomas Rongen (1999-01), Ray Hudson (2002-03), Peter Nowak (2004-06), Tom Soehn (2007-09) and Onalfo (2010).

Like Onalfo, Olsen also played for the club, registering the second most appearances in DC history (221) and tasting success with the club, hoisting two MLS Cup titles in 1999 and 2004. He retired in November 2009 and was immediately hired by United as an assistant coach.

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