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More D.C. United Roommates

Ben Olsen, sort of.

Ben Olsen had a renovated basement to rent. New D.C. United goalkeeper Zach Wells needed a place to stay. Done and done.

D.C. United left back Marc Burch had a spare room in his house. Teammate Rod Dyachenko wanted to move into the city. Done and done.

A year ago at D.C. United's kickoff luncheon, I wrote about five rookies who were living together in a group house in P.G. County. None of the five are with the club any longer, and yet another luncheon arrived today, and with it came news that professional soccer players are still engaging in shared living.

There's a long tradition of joint MLS households. When former United forward Alecko Eskandarian moved to Utah, he stayed in the basement of former United keeper Nick Rimando, who had previously rented his D.C.-area basement to United PR guy Kyle Sheldon. Devon McTavish used to live in Josh Gros's house, and Justin Moose shared a house with former goalkeeper Jay Nolly. This winter, that book added a few more chapters.

First was Olsen, who lives with his wife in a Shaw house that now has a finished basement apartment. (The basement was finished, naturally, by the father of the fiancee of former United midfielder Josh Gros.) The apartment was ready to rent in January, and Olsen was set to find a tenant on craigslist when the newly acquired Wells called and asked for housing advice.

"He said, 'If you want to come check it out, I'll hook you up with a pretty good deal,' " Wells said today. "I saw the place and liked what I saw. It was as simple as convenience, and then you throw in that the Prince of D.C. lives upstairs, and what better tour guide could you want than someone who's lived in D.C. for 10 years?"

Olsen said he offered Wells "a little discount, but not much," citing his major renovation costs, but Wells still seemed thrilled by his new 'hood and his new neighbors. Wells has keys to the upstairs--"my house is his and his is mine," Olsen said--and is already making friends with the neighbors. He plans on selling his car and taking Metro to work, although he sometimes gets rides from his upstairs neighbor.

"When my girlfriend [arrives], it'll be one big happy family," Wells said. "And Benny's got good taste. He did things right. Hardwood floors, granite countertops, nice fixtures...."

"I do have great taste," Olsen agreed.

Of course, landlords and tenants sometimes have contentious relationships, but Olsen didn't make Wells sign a lease and hadn't even considered those titles.

Rod Dyachenko and Marc Burch, sort of.

"I guess I WOULD be his landlord," Olsen acknowledged. "That's why I was happy he moved in, so I didn't have to play Mr. Roper. He is so responsible and anal it makes me sick. It took him three days to buy a mattress. I would have been in and out in five minutes. His first purchase was a mop and a mop bucket for the wood floors. He was so proud. I made fun of him, but I was happy."

"Perfect tenant, dude," Wells said.

Burch, meanwhile, now lives in former defender Bobby Boswell's old house in Northeast, with Dyachenko set to move in within the next few weeks. The two have already hosted a joint dinner party--Dyachenko made gourmet appetizers involving ham, cream cheese and asparagus--and they spend plenty of time together off the field, with their cleanliness standards perhaps the only sticking point.

"He's a real clean guy, he can't stand it when his bed's not made," Dyachenko said of Burch. "He'll fold every blanket in the house, he'll sweep up every crumb. He's OCD, man."

"He's a little laid back," Burch said of Dyachenko. "I 'm a clean guy, I like to get it done. Rod'll get it done, but not at the speed I do. I actually enjoy cleaning. I don't like to have messes around the house. That'll probably be my job."

These players say they won't take their jobs home with them, that they'll occasionally discuss soccer but that they have plenty of other things going on in their lives. Obviously there are some financial necessities at play here, but at the same time, I once lived with five people in a two-bedroom apartment, just sort of because, and it was actually fairly entertaining.

"It's just sort of a natural thing," Dyachenko said of his new arrangement. "I wouldn't want to live by myself at this point in my life. I think it'd be way too boring."

(Unrelated final note: Justin Moose had to tie about eight ties in advance of today's luncheon, for teammates not adept at the procedure. "Not many people know how to tie a tie," he said. Who knew?)

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 25, 2008; 4:37 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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I'm digging all the great United and Wiz Bog posts today - keep it up!

Posted by: Mike in SD | March 25, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Don't they learn? The 5 rookies, Esky, Nicky, Gros, Nolly? Living with other players is a deathblow for your DCU career! Even Moose got cut. Benny, Zach, Rod and Marc will all be off the roster this time next year. Of course McTavish is the MLS leading scorer, so maybe it will all be fine, after all.

Posted by: danj | March 25, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

The front office shouldn't allow you to talk to the team. If Olsen weren't like some type of pre-historic cockroach or something, I'm sure he'd be gone as well.

Posted by: sitruc | March 25, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

In general, do the players prefer the city, VA or MD?

Seems like the younger, unattached players would like the city more, but with the low MLS salaries might find it hard to live comfortably.

Posted by: Vamos United | March 26, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

My co-worker who attended the luncheon with me recognized you on the way in and remarked how much he enjoyed The Bog, not knowing I'm a fan as well. We would have said something, but we didn't want to deflect you from your (ultimately fruitless) hunt for the cheese table. ;-)

Did you bid on any of the Silent Auction items?

Posted by: Stevan in Gaithersburg | March 26, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Great stuff Danman. Knowing these guys aren't getting rich like other athletes and have to go thru some of the same stuff that fans do just makes us appreciate how they play for the shirt as much as the money.
And how the hell did Boz own a house in NE earning 30K? Or did Burch just take over a rental?

Posted by: JMR | March 26, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Marc Burch, a clean freak. Awesome. I have a new role model for my kids.

Son: "Dad, do I HAVE to make my bed?"

Me: "Yes, son. Look, Marc Burch makes his bed every day, and look how well he serves a ball from the flank!"

Son: "You're right dad. OK, I'll make it."

Posted by: Joe Doc | March 26, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

There's another roommate, Dan, who I believe owns the rowhouse. Either way, the D.C. United guys are renters all the way. I shouldn't have referred to it as Bobby's house; just the house Bobby lived in.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | March 26, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Hey Steinberg,

my version of the Post ran a picture of Lucas Niell instead of Olsen with your story!

Shouldn't he get a cut of Wells' rent money now?

Posted by: garbaggio | March 26, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey Steinberg,

my version of the Post ran a picture of Lucas Niell instead of Olsen with your story!

Shouldn't he get a cut of Wells' rent money now?

Posted by: garbaggio | March 26, 2008 05:37 PM


Hey Steinberg,

Franco Niell not Lucas Niell!

I'll go to the blackboard and write "Franco Niell is not Lucas Niell" a hundred times if you go write "Lucas Niell is not Ben Olsen" a hundred times...

Posted by: garbaggio | March 26, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

"If Olsen weren't like some type of pre-historic cockroach or something,"

Nice - we're 4 days before the opening MLS game and we've just seen the Post of the Year.

Posted by: the other RK | March 26, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Post Of the Year, comments saying I need to blog, and offers to be your copy editor... Where's my cut, Dan?

Posted by: sitruc | March 27, 2008 3:30 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Garbaggio, well noted. But bear in mind that I only pick photos for the Bog (Mr. Roper), not for the paper (Mr. Niell).

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | March 27, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: matar_bz | May 11, 2008 4:18 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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