Ben Olsen cemented himself as a D.C. soccer legend during his 22-year tenure with D.C. United. Now, he’ll try to continue that legacy as he has been named club president of the Washington Spirit, the team announced on Thursday.
Olsen has a long and storied career within U.S. soccer. At D.C. United, he won two MLS Cup titles, Rookie of the Year, and MLS Cup MVP. He also made 37 appearances for the U.S. national team between 1998-2007. He had been at the helm of D.C. United for a decade, serving as its head coach from 2010-20, earning one MLS Coach of the Year award.
“We are proud to bring Ben Olsen into the Spirit family. Ben has been a legendary player, coach, and executive in the DC soccer world. He is truly a soccer icon in the Nation’s Capital. As importantly, he has been an engaged community builder in the DMV,” Spirit owner and CEO Steve Baldwin said in a press release given Thursday. “The Spirit will benefit from his energy, ideas, leadership, and history competing on the international stage and winning championships for DC, as we pursue another for the Spirit.”
The Spirit hope Olsen’s arrival commences a new era. They sit sixth out of 10 in the National Women's Soccer League standings with a 6-5-5 record. Washington’s next game is an away match in Portland on Saturday.
After ten years coaching D.C. United, Olsen was fired from his role last October. Hernán Losada was eventually hired as the new head coach.
“I have loved being part of the D.C. United family for over 20 years, and I will always be grateful to the club that has given me so much. However, it is time for a new challenge for me and the opportunity to help grow the Spirit, soccer in the city I love, and the women’s game was too great to pass up,” Olsen said.
The Sprit have been engrossed in an abuse scandal recently. Per the Washington Post, former coach Richie Burke was accused of verbally and emotionally abusing players. Burke stepped down from his role last month as a result of the allegations and an investigation by the NWSL began. That investigation is ongoing.
The Post reported Monday that there is also an ownership dispute between Baldwin and co-owner Y. Michele Kang that remains unresolved.