Olsen’s longevity sets United coaching mark

Ben Olsen (D.C. United photo)
Ben Olsen (D.C. United photo)

The milestone passed quietly, without fanfare, lost amid another defeat in a shambolic season.

Aside from overseeing D.C. United’s 4-1 mess at Chicago over the weekend, Ben Olsen became the longest-tenured head coach in the club’s 17-year history.

Longer than Bruce Arena, who raised two MLS Cup trophies. Longer than Thomas Rongen and Peter Nowak, who won one apiece.

The record does come with an asterisk, for Olsen began his run on an interim basis over four months in 2010. In terms of duration guiding the first team, though, Olsen’s watch of 2 years, 11 months 18 days is tops.

Last month he became United’s leader in regular season games coached and, with the Chicago trip, reached the 100 mark.

Remarkably, for a club that has collected a lobby cabinet packed with honors since the 1996 launch, United has never employed a head coach for more than three complete seasons. Some left for other opportunities, others were dismissed.

Olsen, whose contract is guaranteed through the 2014 season, has yet to complete his third campaign. But the interim spell allowed him to surpass Nowak’s stint last Friday.

(Among former head coaches, Tom Soehn put in the most time on the staff: three as an assistant and three as boss. Mark Simpson was an assistant for eight years: 2002 and 2004-10.)

Despite United’s 2-14-4 record and nine goals scored, management has been steadfast in its support of Olsen and plans to retain him through the end of the year and probably into next season, multiple sources said.

Olsen, 36, has served as a United player, assistant coach or head coach for 15 1/2 years. The only former player with deeper ties is Jaime Moreno: 14 on the field and 2 1/2 coaching the youth academy and under-23 squad.

UNITED’S HEAD COACHES

Ben Olsen

Duration: 2 years 11 months 18 days (as of Monday).

Hired: Aug. 4, 2010 (interim), Nov. 29, 2010 (full-time).

Previous job: United assistant.

Inherited: Last-place team from Curt Onalfo.

Record: 31-45-24 (regular season only).

Honors: Third-most points and Eastern Conference finals in 2012.

Peter Nowak

Duration: 2 years 11 months 14 days.

Hired: Jan. 7, 2004.

Departed: Dec. 21, 2006.

Previous job: Retired player.

Reason for departure: Accepted job with U.S. Soccer Federation to serve as U.S. national team assistant and 2008 Olympic head coach.

Inherited: Mediocre team from Ray Hudson.

Record: 42-27-25.

Honors: 1 MLS Cup, 3 playoff appearances, 1 Supporters’ Shield.

Thomas Rongen

Duration: 2 years 11 months 13 days.

Hired: Dec. 4, 1998.

Departed: Nov. 17, 2001.

Previous job: New England Revolution head coach.

Reason for departure: Contract not renewed after missing playoffs for second straight year.

Inherited: Three-time finalist from Bruce Arena.

Record: 39-43-8.

Honors: 1 MLS Cup, 1 playoff appearance, 1 Supporters’ Shield.

Bruce Arena

Duration: 2 years 11 months 2 days.

Hired: Jan. 3, 1996.

Departed: Dec. 5, 1998.

Previous job: University of Virginia head coach.

Reason for departure: Accepted job with USSF to become national team and 1996 Olympic head coach.

Inherited: First-year team.

Record: 61-35-0.

Honors: 2 MLS Cup titles, 1 MLS Cup runner-up, 3 playoffs, 1 Supporters’ Shield, 1 U.S. Open Cup title, 1 CONCACAF Champions Cup title.

Tom Soehn

Duration: 2 years 10 months 13 days.

Hired: Dec. 21, 2006.

Departed: Nov. 3, 2009.

Previous job: United assistant.

Reason for departure: Withdrew from contract renewal consideration after missing playoffs two straight years.

Inherited: Championship contender from Peter Nowak.

Record: 36-30-24.

Honors: 1 playoff appearance, 1 Supporters’ Shield, 1 U.S. Open Cup title.

Ray Hudson

Duration: 1 year 11 months 7 days.

Hired: Jan. 8, 2002.

Departed: Dec. 15, 2003.

Previous job: Miami Fusion head coach.

Reason for departure: Contract option declined after two middling seasons.

Inherited: Non-playoff team from Thomas Rongen.

Record: 19-25-14.

Honors: 1 playoff appearance.

Curt Onalfo

Duration: 7 months 30 days.

Hired: Jan. 5, 2010.

Departed: Aug. 4, 2010.

Previous job: Kansas City Wizards head coach.

Reason for departure: Fired with an MLS-worst record.

Inherited: Non-playoff team from Tom Soehn.

Record: 3-12-3.

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 · July 21, 2013