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"Just Run Like An Idiot": On D.C. United and Goals

Eight reporters gathered around Ben Olsen in a mini-news conference today, asking about last Sunday's three-goal explosion. "The stars aligned," was his humble explanation. A colleague asked about the post-game response from friends around the league.

"I got more calls and e-mails than I did for my wedding," Olsen said. "People were blown [away]. I understood why."

A for execution, C- for originality. (Haraz N. Ghanbari - AP)

Because in truth, Olsen's offensive output lately hasn't exactly rivaled Don Imus's; eight goals over three-plus seasons before Sunday's detonation. And while the finishing was clinical, the post-finishing left a bit to be desired; his goal celebrations (see below) consisted of earnest fist pumps, raised-arm entreaties for more noise from the crowd, and even the old hands-behind-the-ears gimmick, surely nothing befitting a stylish scoring onslaught.

"To be honest, Benny needs to work on his celebrations," English teammate Kasali Yinka Casal said. "They're terrible. He doesn't do anything. He just walks off, or he just stands there."

"They were pretty terrible," defender Bobby Boswell agreed. "He's kind of the professional, seasoned veteran, doesn't show a lot of emotion, just acts like he's done that a million times. For me, I needed a lot more."

"It was too simple," Guy-Roland Kpene summarized. ""It wasn't good enough."

There were no shortage of suggestions. Kpene said he was known for "some crazy stuff" during a prolific career at Dowling College. Before he learned that American refs would give him a yellow card for excessive celebrating, he once made like a dog that had too much to drink, if you get my drift. He said he's been working on a move called "The Chicken Wings," and that fans would not be disappointed with his celebrations. "You'll see, man," he promised, "you'll see."

Casal is partial to those who flip; he particularly likes the celebrations of Ireland's Robbie Keane, who used to famously tumble and then unleash fake firearms, and Obafemi Martins, a flipping Nigerian who plays for Newcastle. I asked whether Benny should try the flips; "No way," Casal said. "He's getting on a bit. How old is he, 30? I love Benny, but maybe not now."

Boswell isn't into the flips--"soccer players aren't gymnasts, personal opinion," he said--but he had his own ideas for Olsen.

"I think Benny should embrace the monkey," said Boswell, who collects unflattering action photos of the midfielder that have occasionally run in local periodicals. "His arms are so long, they dangle," Boswell explained, "so I told him to embrace the monkey and just start swinging from the rafters or something....Or maybe climb the fence or something. Or just do the whole hand-under-your-arm, scratch-your-head, beat-your-chest, let-your-knuckles-hit-the-ground thing. That's what I would do if I were him."

Newcomer Nicholas Addlery took pains not to criticize the veteran Olsen, but he's crafted a plan for celebrating his first MLS goal: take off his shirt and shorts and head into the stands. "I don't know if you can do that in the MLS," he allowed. "You'd definitely be hit with a suspension, wouldn't you?"

I didn't run these ideas by Olsen, but I did ask him about his post-goal style. He said he's never been one to plan out scoring celebrations in advance. He said his displays were once more elaborate, in his college days, but that even then, none were particularly worth mentioning. Ever the company man, he said his favorite MLS celebration was a D.C. United classic in which players would march in a circle together while wagging their hands; "If I ever score again, I'm going to try to bring that one back," he said. And he said that he's "a bit of a stoic," but that any planned outburst wouldn't work regardless.

"It's such a euphoric moment to score a goal, that my emotions would take over my brain, and you just run like an idiot," he said. "Just kind of do what you do."

(Please feel free to contribute other favorite MLS goal celebrations. Several players mentioned Alecko Eskandarian's Red Bull drinking stunt; that will "go down in MLS history as probably one of the best celebrations," Boswell said. Boswell also was partial to an Esky celebration in Columbus, where he yelled out "Schweinsteiger!!!" in honor of the German midfielder. Someone else mentioned Clint Dempsey's RFK batting stance, and of course, Robbie Fowler's pretend cocaine snort.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 13, 2007; 4:59 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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