But in the wake of an MLS playoff defeat at Toronto on Oct. 19 — United has not advanced past the first round since 2015 — Olsen recognizes the organization could look to make a coaching change this offseason.
“If it’s time, then it’s time,” he said. “I have done my time here. I think I continue to do a good job for this club. . . . If the people in charge think it’s time — they see me; they know what I am doing; I am an open book; they know how I coach — if they think the team needs to go in a different direction, they’ll make that decision.”
Olsen has two years remaining on his contract with a clause that would keep him with the club in another capacity if both sides so chose.
United officials have not gone out of their way to declare Olsen will return, saying they have begun their evaluation of all aspects of the team.
D.C. entered the year with high expectations following a 2018 resurgence inspired by English superstar Wayne Rooney but finished fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 13-10-11 record. In the playoffs, United scored a late equalizer before conceding four goals in extra time for a 5-1 defeat.
“The ending game was disappointing; the season itself was not disappointing,” said Olsen, 42, who sits behind only Kansas City’s Peter Vermes for the longest current coaching tenure in MLS.
United has not advanced to the conference final since 2012.
Addressing Olsen’s status last week, Jason Levien, United’s chief executive, told The Washington Post that “one of the assets we have is the continuity in our staff. We’ve got a lot of faith in that leadership, and it sends a message to everyone in the organization when we stand by our leadership."
However, he added: “The results haven’t been there. We have to evaluate this stuff.”
The evaluation will also involve the roster. United was second best in MLS defensively but, aside from a few matches scattered throughout the 34-game campaign, never replicated the attacking prowess and finished 21st of 24 teams in scoring.
The partnership between Rooney and Luciano Acosta fizzled. Amid plans to return to England after this season, Rooney scored once after July 1. Acosta was a bust, and by August, had lost his starting job.
“The season isn’t all on Lucho,” Olsen said of Acosta. “It’s not all on Wayne. It’s all of us.”
Both are departing: Rooney to Derby County and Acosta, whose contract expires this winter, to parts unknown.
Reflecting on the Rooney-Acosta dynamic from one year to the next, Olsen said: “I don’t know if that run was sustainable. It was so epic, and the desperation and the home game after home game and the energy, to sustain that is a hard thing to do, especially when you rely on those two to make so many plays for you.”
Acosta, a Best XI all-league selection last year, did not seem the same mentally since training camp, when a proposed move to Paris Saint-Germain fell through. During this season, multiple people close to the situation said, Acosta turned down a long-term offer from United that would have quadrupled his salary to more than $2 million. Since then, his value on the MLS and international market has dropped substantially. United will retain his rights.
“I generally feel bad for Lucho that this year was so turbulent,” Olsen said. “It started off with that crushing blow and it just seemed he was always dealing with the emotional side of his situation. That sometimes can take away from the soccer and the freedom, and being at his best.”
With Acosta leaving, Olsen said United will prioritize the central midfield position this offseason. Paul Arriola, a winger, filled the void late in the year.
Ola Kamara, a late-season signing, is expected to take Rooney’s slot at striker.
“If we now get some difference-makers that can be consistently our best players,” Olsen said, “then we have the surrounding pieces to be a very competitive team.”
Retaining the core would mean re-signing center back Frédéric Brillant and retaining Bill Hamid, an MLS goalkeeper of the year finalist on loan from Danish club Midtjylland.
“We want Bill back,” Olsen said. “I want Bill back.”
United will have to extend the loan or buy Hamid’s contract.
“This place means everything to me,” said the Annandale native, who, aside from six months in 2018 in Denmark, has spent his entire 10-year pro career in Washington. “I want to be here.”
Notes: Jalen Robinson, a homegrown defender with 19 league starts in six seasons, said he will not return. His contract expired. …
United and backup goalkeeper Chris Seitz have struck a deal on a new contract, a person familiar with the talks said. …
Defender Marquinhos Pedroso (three starts) is not expected to return. The club has a few more weeks to decide whether to exercise contract options.
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