Kellie Cowan

Josh Wolff retires, joins DCU staff

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Josh Wolff retires, joins DCU staff

As anticipated, United forward Josh Wolff announced his retirement today, ending a 14-year professional playing career that included time in the MLS, Germany and with the U.S. Men's National Team.

Wolff's playing days may be behind him, but his career in soccer won't be. The veteran forward will transition to the DCU staff full-time after serving as player/coach during the 2012 season.  

“It’s been a fun ride and I have had a lot of great experiences over the years in the League, abroad, and with the national team,” Wolff said in a team statement. “I’d like to thank everyone for the memories, advice, and direction over the years. Though I’m excited to take the next step in my career and to be joining such a great technical staff, I’m most excited to build upon what we did this past season as a group.”

The 35-year-old got on the field nine times this season before surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back sidelined Wolff in September. During his MLS career, which included stints with Chicago, Kansas City and D.C., Wolff scored 80 goals, 49 assists in 267 games.

“I was lucky enough to play alongside Josh since we were teenagers and we were able to share some incredible experiences, playing in the Olympics and a World Cup as teammates,” said D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen. “He had a wonderful career both for the national team and in MLS and I consider him one of my oldest friends. I am extremely excited that he’s joining our staff full-time. He brings a fresh perspective that will continue to help both this club and me.”

Wolff made the roster for the U.S. Men's National Team in both the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups, where he played alongside DCU head coach Ben Olsen.  Wolff's assist on the Brian McBride goal in the 2002 World Cup in Korea helped stamp the U.S. ticket to the quarterfinal stage.

Pontius honored in MLS Awards

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Pontius honored in MLS Awards

D.C. United captain Chris Pontius was honored this week with his selection to the 2012 MLS Best XI side, as voted on by MLS players, staff and media.

Today Pontius fell agonizingly short in the polls to Sounders striker Eddie Johnson for the Comeback Player of the Year award.  Pontius, returning from a broken leg that ended his 2011 season, led his club in scoring with 13 goals, 4 assists in 31 games and captained the Black and Red to their first playoff berth in five years. Pontius was also named to this year's All-Star team and voted the Most Valuable Player after scoring the equalizer and assisting ont he game-winner in a 3-2 victory over Europena champs Chelsea FC. 

Three of United's finest were named as finalists for three different MLS awards but despite their outstanding accomplishments in D.C.'s rebound season, each fell short in voting.

Last week Chicago defender Austin Berry stole Rookie of the Year honors for 2012 with former college teammate, Nick DeLeon, coming in as his runner up. DeLeon notched six goals in his rookie campaign --a record for a DCU freshman-- and played an integral role in three of United's four playoff goals this season.

Olsen, a finalist for MLS Coach of the Year, came in third behind Peter Vermes (SKC) and the overwhelming winner, San Joe's Frank Yallop.

In just his second full season at the helm of his former club, Ben Olsen pulled DCU from the bottom of the Eastern Conference to the top, finishing the 2012 season with a seven game unbeaten streak and advancing to the the Eastern Conference Championship for the first time since 2006. Olsen's club claimed second place in the regular season standings with its 17-10-7 record, which included an 18-game unbeaten streak at home.

DCU president and CEO steps down

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DCU president and CEO steps down

After 17 years with the club, D.C. United president and CEO Kevin Payne announced his resignation today.  

“Very few people in American soccer have put their stamp on a club as Kevin has with D.C. United,” said United Head Coach Ben Olsen. “His loyalty to the team and me is something for which I’ll always be indebted.”

Payne has served at the helm since United first came to the district in 1996. During his tenure the club became the most decorated MLS franchise, winning four MLS Cup titles.

“Kevin’s lengthy list of accomplishments speaks to his strong acumen as a leader,” said owner Jason Levien in a team statement. “His dedication to the organization deserves deep admiration and appreciation. As D.C. United begins a new chapter, Kevin's leadership has helped to prepare us for this important and potential-filled inflection point in the club’s history.”

During his time in D.C., Payne also earned honors and awards of his own, including the prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award by U.S. Soccer in February 2011 for his work promoting soccer in the U.S.

“They say the only constant in life is change,” said Payne.  “For me, D.C. United has been like my child.  We brought the team into the D.C. and national sports world 17 years ago and every day since – good and bad – has been a labor of love.  This team has provided many great memories of championships and historic accomplishments, but I will best remember the people I've had the chance to meet, to work with, strive with, celebrate with, and sometimes to share disappointment with. 

“To the players, coaches, co-workers and fans, I can only say thank you so much for the great privilege of having been part of the D.C. United family.  It’s very difficult for me to express how I have felt, and still feel, about all of you.  I will forward a longer statement in the weeks to come to try to do a better job of thanking everyone for all they have meant to me. 

“I'm very excited about the next phase of my life, and very excited about the next phase for D.C. United, as well.  I know the leadership of the team will take it to new heights on, and off, the field.  I look forward to returning to RFK and wish everyone in the D.C. United family the best of luck.”