Ben Olsen appointed club president of Washington Spirit

Ben Olsen during Philadelphia Union v D.C. United
Ben Olsen during Philadelphia Union v D.C. United / Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Former D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen was appointed as club president of National Women’s Soccer League side Washington Spirit, the team announced Thursday. 

Olsen first joined D.C. United in 1998 as a player, going on to feature for the Major League Soccer side in 221 appearances spanning almost a decade. After his retirement in 2009, he quickly transitioned into an assistant coach under manager Curt Onalfo.

In 2010, the club fired Onalfo for a bad record and subsequently promoted Olsen to become interim head coach. United interviewed at least seven candidates before announcing the former player as the permanent replacement to become the youngest full-time head coach in the league's 15-year history. 

He went on to coach the club for 10 years before recently stepping down in 2020 to become an executive advisor to United. 

“I have loved being part of the D.C. United family for over 20 years, and I will always be grateful to the club that has given me so much,” Olsen said in Thursday's release.

“However, it is time for a new challenge for me and the opportunity to help grow the Spirit, soccer in the city I love, and the women’s game was too great to pass up. The Spirit squad is an exciting team, and the NWSL is on the rise. I am eager to get to work building on that momentum to help bring another title to DC and deepen our responsibility to the DMV community and our fans.”

Now, Olsen’s new role will see him oversee day-to-day operations, driving development of team business and overall effort to enhance the club’s culture and identity. 

“We are proud to bring Ben Olsen into the Spirit family," Spirit owner Steve Baldwin said in a statement. 

"Ben has been a legendary player, coach, and executive in the D.C. soccer world. He is truly a soccer icon in the Nation’s Capital. As importantly, he has been an engaged community builder in the DMV. The Spirit will benefit from his energy, ideas, leadership, and history competing on the international stage and winning championships for D.C., as we pursue another for the Spirit.”

It has been a tumultuous season for the Washington D.C. side as former head coach Richie Burke resigned early this month after players voiced allegations that he verbally and emotionally abused them. 

Since then, Jim Gabarra has been leading the team. 

The Spirit currently sit sixth on the NWSL table with 23 points from 16 matches.