Competition. Belief. Mentality.
Those are the words consistently used by Ted Segal and Pat Onstad as they rang in a new era for the Houston Dynamo with the introduction of Ben Olsen at a press conference Tuesday morning at PNC Stadium. Fans interested in watching the introductory press conference can do so here.
"I believe in this project strongly, and [Ted Segal and Lyle Ayes] vision for the Club is a huge part of why I'm here today," said Olsen to reporters. "With Pat Onstad's guidance, the resources, and the building blocks that have already been laid, I am confident in this new era for the Houston Dynamo."
Olsen, the sixth full-time coach in the history of the Dynamo, comes to Houston with an impressive track record on the field and on the touchline. At only forty-five years old, Olsen returns to coaching with six playoff appearances under his belt, along with a 2013 U.S. Open Cup Championship. It wasn't only his resume that attracted Onstad and Segal to hiring the former D.C. United legend, however. It was his commitment to building something special in Houston, and the mentality that he aims to instill in the Houston Dynamo on his way to getting there.
"We need to be competitive, and that's who Ben Olsen is," said Dynamo General Manager, Pat Onstad. "I talked about it in the beginning when I first met him. That's who he was as a player, and that's who he is as a coach. That's a piece that we definitely didn't have last year, and I know we're going to have that this year."
While remaining steadfast in his focus on building something in Houston, Olsen harkened to his battles with the Houston Dynamo towards the end of his title-winning playing career in the nation's capitol. The grit, desire, and success of "the Dynamo way" in the early 2000s, Olsen said, was something he aimed to modernize and bring into the side he leads today.
Olsen returns to the touchline following a successful stint in the NWSL, where he oversaw the Washington Spirit's first league title in 2021. Asked about the time away from Major League Soccer and from coaching, Olsen says that it has allowed him to see the sport from new, fresh angles.
"I was in the coaching lane for so long, I wanted to see what else was out there," said Olsen of his time since departing D.C. United in 2020. "Six months to a year ago... being back in the arena, the locker-room, made me realize there was an itch growing inside of me. I had to step away to make me realize that I needed to be back here. Sitting down and talking to Pat about this proactive style, it really excited me."
Hailed by Majority Owner and Chairman Ted Segal as the beginning of a "new era" for the club, Olsen spoke on the immediate and substantial work desired to return the Dynamo to its place as one of the "great MLS clubs", in his eyes.
"The immediate focus is improving the roster," said Olsen. "We have a strong core with promising prospects - but we need to add more quality and depth. Secondly, we as a staff need to make sure the players are clear on their roles to execute a proactive and effective game model. Lastly, we need to continue to improve the Club's mentality and culture, which has been on the wrong side of the playoff line too many times in the past decade."
That work for Olsen, Onstad, and the Dynamo technical staff is set to begin immediately. The Dynamo find themselves in the middle of MLS Offseason Roster Building Events, with the league's trade window closing tomorrow and Expansion Draft only three days away. Additionally, the deadline for the exercising of contract options is November 14th, with a flurry of moves being announced by the Club on Monday.
A new chapter is here, Houston!
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