D.C. United exercises option on Olsen contract

January 31, 2013

D.C. United exercised Coach Ben Olsen‘s 2014 contract option Thursday, rewarding the former player for last year’s success and putting him on course to become the longest-serving head coach in club history.

In his second full season last year, Olsen guided United to the third-highest point total in 19-team MLS, its first playoff berth in five years and a berth in the Eastern Conference finals.

“Ben has had the leading role in rebuilding D.C. United and he is extremely deserving to have his option exercised a year in advance,” General Manager Dave Kasper said.

After briefly serving as United’s interim boss, Olsen was upgraded to the full-time position starting in 2011 and given a three-year contract with a one-year option. Instead of letting the issue linger through this season, United decided to commit to him through next year.

MLS coaching salaries are not disclosed. Olsen received a “nice bump” from option terms that were set when he signed the initial contract, said a person familiar with the talks but not authorized to discuss financial details.

Assuming he retains the job next year, Olsen would set the club record for head coaching longevity. Bruce Arena (1996-98), Thomas Rongen (1999-2001), Peter Nowak (2004-06) and Tom Soehn (2007-09) served three years apiece. Rongen and Soehn were dismissed after missing the playoffs two straight years, Arena left to become the U.S. national team coach and Nowak stepped down to take the U.S. Olympic job.

Olsen, 36 in May, was MLS’s youngest coach until former teammate Ryan Nelsen was hired by Toronto FC this month.

“I appreciate the commitment and loyalty this club has given me over the years,” Olsen said. “Hopefully I can continue to repay this organization with results and a team that our community is proud of.”

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff · January 31, 2013