D.C. United announced on Thursday that head coach Ben Olsen has departed the club effective immediately. Assistant coach Chad Ashton will take over as interim manager as the search for a permanent head coach formally begins.
The club statement indicated that Olsen and the club are working together to determine a new role for him within the organization. Prior to Thursday's news he was the second longest-tenured head coach in the league.
"My overwhelming emotion right now is that I have been incredibly fortunate to be associated with this great club for 22 years. No one gets that opportunity in professional sports, and I am so much richer for all the amazing experiences and relationships along the way. I will always be grateful,” Olsen said in the club statement.
“It is now time for a change. It is the right move. The club needs a new face and this is the right time for the club and also for me personally to move in a different direction. I spent the last 22 years waking up every morning thinking about how I could try to make this club better. I definitely didn’t get everything right, but I know I always gave everything I had to try to help this club achieve success. I want to thank everyone at the club, past and present, and all our fans for their support throughout this journey. I am very much looking forward to my next chapter and supporting the club I love.”
United have struggled in 2020, currently sitting bottom of the league with 11 points after 16 matches (2W-9L-5D). He guided them to the playoffs in five of the last six seasons, winning the U.S. Open Cup in 2013. Olsen's career regular season record at the helm of the club was 113W-137L-84D.
“Ben has been a fabric of the D.C. United organization for more than two decades, including his role as head coach for the last ten years, and we are forever grateful for his contributions and leadership,” Jason Levien, co-chairman and CEO of D.C. United said in a club statement. “Over the course of his 22 years with the club, Ben has been a total professional and has represented this organization with incredible class and distinction. It is our sincere hope and belief that Ben will continue to have a big impact on the organization.”
Olsen is a club legend at D.C., having taken over as head coach in 2010 after spending 1998-2009 as a player for the club. He made 221 appearances during his career as a player and managed 364 games for United. He won eight trophies during his time as a player and guided the team to winning U.S. Open Cup in 2013 as manager.
United's 2020 season has been mired by injuries. They have missed key attacker Paul Arriola all season after the U.S. international went down with a torn ACL in February, while club-record signing Edison Flores has made just five starts this season due to injury. The club have just one win in their last 14 games.