MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

Ben Olsen named new Houston Dynamo head coach

Ben Olsen

Houston Dynamo FC have officially named Ben Olsen as their head coach, the club announced Tuesday. Olsen becomes the sixth manager in Dynamo history.

Olsen, 45, is best known for his long stint as manager of D.C. United from 2010-20. He was named Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year in 2014 and led the club to a 2013 US Open Cup win. Olsen's career regular-season record at the helm of D.C. United was 113W-137L-84D.

Houston will be Olsen's second head coaching job. Following his departure from D.C. United, Olsen served as president of the Washington Spirit in the National Women’s Soccer League.

“The club is proud to welcome Ben Olsen to Houston as the head coach of the Dynamo,” majority owner and chairman Ted Segal said in a club statement. “Ben is one of the most accomplished coaches in MLS and brings championship experience, including winning eight different MLS titles as a player, to this position. His commitment to developing high-potential players and leading playoff contenders make him a great fit for the direction of our organization.”

Olsen first joined D.C. United as an assistant during the 2010 season after retiring as a player a year earlier. By the end of 2010, Olsen was named interim manager before earning the full-time job ahead of the 2011 season. Olsen remained their head coach through the 2020 season.

A longtime midfielder for DCU and the US men's national team, Olsen's professional playing career lasted about a dozen years after starring at the University of Virginia.

“I am excited to join Houston Dynamo FC and contribute to the rich history of one of the great MLS clubs,” said Olsen. “I was drawn to ownership’s vision for the club, and I am confident in this new era for the Dynamo. We have a lot of work to do on the roster, game model, mentality, and culture of the club, but I am energized and excited to get to work.”

The Dynamo conducted their second coaching search in as many years, after parting ways with Paulo Nagamura about a month before the 2022 season ended, his first as the Dynamo head coach. Houston were sitting in last place in the Western Conference when the move was announced and ended 2022 in 13th place.

The club underwent a makeover across the last year, with Segal taking over as managing owner. Club legend Pat Onstad was named general manager during the winter and they have worked to retool the roster, headlined by the additions of Héctor Herrera and Sebastián Ferreira as Designated Players.

"Ben is an experienced MLS head coach with a strong track record of building playoff teams and developing young players,” said Onstad. “Ben is the right leader for our club as we begin making significant changes to field a more proactive, younger and competitive team in the coming years. We are excited to welcome Ben and his family to the city of Houston and we are already hard at work on the 2023 season.”

Olsen will get to work immediately, with a handful of key roster decisions to be made already ahead of the Nov. 14 deadline for clubs to make decisions on contract options for 2023. Houston have to decide on the futures of forward Fafa Picault, fullback Zeca and midfielders Memo Rodriguez and Darwin Quintero.

The Dynamo haven’t made the playoffs since 2017 – when they also won the US Open Cup. That season was the only year they made the playoffs since 2013. The Dynamo have won two MLS Cups (2006, 2007) and were finalists two more times (2011, 2012).