Ben Olsen from the US Soccer Federation
Steve Goff of the Washington Post is reporting that Ben Olsen’s distinguished career in Major League Soccer could be over. Olsen has been one of the most consistent players in the league when healthy, helping to lead DC United to the 1998 CONCACAF Champions Cup title, the 1999 and 2004 MLS Cup titles and the 1999, 2006 and 2007 MLS Supporters Shield. Olsen has also been a top player for the US, scoring his first international goal in front of my eyes in 1999 at Lockhart Stadium versus Chile as well as scoring the winning goal for the US in the 1999 Confederations Cup versus Germany, one of the best US victories of the last ten years. Olsen last played for the US in the 2007 Copa America.
Olsen’s performance against Argentina in the first match of Copa America was a throwback to the days when Olsen despite looking at times unskilled and raw could dominate the midfield in a match. The fact that he was playing against the likes of Riquelme and Veron spoke volumes as to the quality Olsen possessed when healthy. The story of his career was however sadly highlighted by injuries. Olsen’s injury problems began in the 1999 season for DC United, but he was healthy during the playoffs as the club won MLS Cup. But the injuries really began to pile up during a loan spell in 2001 to Nottingham Forest of the English First Division during the MLS closed season. Olsen played well with Forest and would have likely stayed with the club but was injured and fought through injuries for the next several years while DC United struggled. When Olsen once again returned to health, United returned to form in the 2004 to 2007 time period. Olsen’s potential retirement causes problems for United and quite frankly takes away a valuable utility type player from US Manager Bob Bradley as tough qualifiers in CONCACAF approach. Olsen has been a winner, period in a sport where many Americans quite frankly have a losing mentality. If this is it for him, may his career be remembered for his grit and accomplishments not his susceptibility to injury.