Ben Olsen named MLS Coach of the Year after worst-to-first turnaround

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Injuries ultimately nipped the team in the playoffs, but no matter. What Ben Olsen did at DC United is nothing short of spectacular.

Taking a team that finished with just three measly wins in 2013 and leading them to the Eastern Conference championship this season (by more points – 4 – than wins last year) has earned the 37-year-old Coach of the Year honors for 2014.

The team set a club-record for points in a season with 59, one more than the previous mark set in 1998 and matched in 2012, Olsen’s first year. A masterful defensive record coupled with a wildly successful strike partnership saw the team not only run away with the Eastern Conference, but also advance into the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League this coming spring.

“To be named Coach of the Year is an organizational honor that speaks to the success of D.C. United as a whole this season,” Olsen said to the club’s official website. “General Manager Dave Kasper set this team up for success, and the players, coaches and staff all delivered and have plenty to be proud of. I am thankful for the commitment and belief in me from the team’s ownership group – Erick Thohir, Jason Levien and Will Chang – and I am excited about the future of this great club.”

The youngest head coach in MLS history when he signed on in late 2010, Olsen was tasked with an enormous project in his first managerial job just a year after retirement. He finished seventh in his first year before the club sprung to second in 2012 and would make the Eastern Conference finals before elimination from the playoffs.

Massive disappointment marked 2013, with a -37 goal differential leading them spiraling downwards, but victory in last season’s US Open Cup was a sign of things to come.

“He has shown incredible leadership on and off the field, and his energy, commitment and intelligence provided the impetus for the team’s success,” said GM Dave Kasper. “We look forward to our future with Ben at the helm.”

Olsen is the second DC United head coach to win Coach of the Year, following Bruce Arena in 1997 after he led the club to a sweep of the Eastern Conference division title, the Supporter’s Shield, and the MLS Cup.