Houston Dynamo FC hired Ben Olsen as the sixth head coach in team history, the Club announced today. Olsen will be formally introduced to media at a press conference later today at 10:30 a.m. CDT in the press conference room at PNC Stadium.
“The Club is proud to welcome Ben Olsen to Houston as the head coach of the Dynamo,” majority owner and chairman Ted Segal said. “Ben is one of the most accomplished coaches in MLS and brings championship experience, including winning eight different MLS titles as a player, to this position. His commitment to developing high-potential players and leading playoff contenders make him a great fit for the direction of our organization.”
The 45-year-old has more than a decade of head coaching experience in Major League Soccer and joins the Dynamo with 113 victories in league play, the ninth highest mark in league history. Olsen began his head coaching career in 2010 with D.C. United when he took over for the final 12 matches of the regular season. He led D.C. United to the postseason six times and won the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Olsen joins the Dynamo with considerable MLS postseason experience. He is among eight active MLS head coaches to lead a team to the MLS playoffs six or more times. That list includes Bruce Arena, Bob Bradley, Jim Curtin, Peter Vermes, Brian Schmetzer, Oscar Pareja and Greg Vanney. He returns to MLS as the youngest coach with 10 or more seasons at the helm of a team. Olsen led D.C. United to the best record in the Eastern Conference in 2014 and earned MLS Coach of the Year honors that season after leading the team to the conference semifinals. D.C. United would qualify for the postseason in three consecutive years beginning in 2014 and again from 2018-2019. The club represented MLS in the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Concacaf Champions League and reached the quarterfinals in both campaigns.
As a head coach, Olsen consistently fielded some of the youngest teams in MLS and developed many senior national team players and MLS veterans. D.C. United fielded one of the five youngest teams in MLS for five of Olsen’s 11 seasons as a head coach and his squad in 2020 featured five teenagers. In that time, the club developed senior North American, Central American and South American national team players like Bill Hamid, Paul Arriola, Andy Najar, Junior Moreno, Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius, and Donovan Pines. MLS veterans such as Luciano Acosta, Russell Canouse, Nick DeLeon and Joe Willis made their MLS debut under Olsen with D.C. United. He also developed young American players that were transferred abroad like Kevin Paredes (VfL Wolfsburg, Germany), Moses Nyeman (S.K. Beveren, Belgium), Griffin Yow (Westerlo, Belgium) and Chris Durkin (Sint-Truiden, Belgium).
“I am excited to join Houston Dynamo FC and contribute to the rich history of one of the great MLS clubs,” said Olsen. “I was drawn to ownership’s vision for the club, and I am confident in this new era for the Dynamo. We have a lot of work to do on the roster, game model, mentality and culture of the club, but I am energized and excited to get to work.”
Olsen joins the Dynamo after serving as the president of the Washington Spirit in the National Women’s Soccer League from Sept. 2021 through May 2022. Olsen led the club to their first league title in 2021 and transitioned to a new ownership group at the beginning of this year. He was tasked with the day-to-day operations of the Spirit and the development of their business and sporting operations.
“Ben is an experienced MLS head coach with a strong track record of building playoff teams and developing young players,” said general manager Pat Onstad. “Ben is the right leader for our club as we begin making significant changes to field a more proactive, younger and competitive team in the coming years. We are excited to welcome Ben and his family to the city of Houston and we are already hard at work on the 2023 season.”
As a player, the Middletown, Pennsylvania native won two MLS Cup titles, three MLS Supporters’ Shields and the 1998 Concacaf Champions’ Cup during his 13-year playing career with D.C. United. The two-time MLS All-Star was named to the MLS Best XI in 2007 and a year later he won the 2008 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, his eighth trophy as a player.
Internationally, Olsen won a bronze medal with the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and represented the USMNT at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He won the 2005 Concacaf Gold Cup and finished his international career with 37 caps.
He is a product of the University of Virginia where he was named the Soccer America Player of the Year in 1997 and finished as a finalist for the Hermann Trophy. Olsen was recognized for more than 20 years of service to the sport in the Washington D.C. area in 2015 when he was inducted into the Virginia-DC Soccer Hall of Fame.
Olsen becomes the sixth full-time head coach in club history, following Dominic Kinnear (2006-14), Owen Coyle (2015-16), Wilmer Cabrera (2017-19), Tab Ramos (2020-2021) and Paulo Nagamura (2022).
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