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Olsen's Career in Jeopardy

DCU midfielder Ben Olsen , a 10-year veteran and 2007 all-league selection who has yet to play this season because of ankle problems, will not return to the field anytime soon, if at all.

"It's not great," he told the Insider today. "It's a situation where we are going to wait another couple months, see if there is any relief, and if not, we are going to have to go back in with some reconstruction type stuff. It's complicated surgery. It's a little grim right now."

You saw a doctor in North Carolina this week, right?

"He basically said there are some cysts in there, there are some bone and cartilage issues. It's a bit of a minefield right now. If it settles down in the next couple months, great. Am I confident that it will? No, not really. It's something we are dealing and we are going to do everything we can in those couple months to get it right."

"Everything is so gray. They don't know how it is going to play out, they really don't. They have been candid with me, which has been very nice. They said, 'Look, the percentages of you playing again are not good. There's a possibility you won't play again. So just prepare yourself for that.' But if that's the case, I will deal with it. It's not the end of the world."

What can you do physically over the next few months?

"Not much. I can swim and bike. The only thing I really can't do is run. I can kick around, it's just that running. I have a stretched ligament as well. It was always, 'Is it the bone, is it the ligament?' Now the consensus is that it's both."

More from the team on Olsen's situation in Saturday's print edition (available online late tonight).

By Steve Goff  |  May 2, 2008; 12:26 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Morning Kickaround
Next: More News From RFK



Posted by: damn | May 2, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Man, what an absolute bummer. Benny just can't catch a break. Here's hoping for a miracle- DC United just isn't the same without him.

Posted by: Ricky B | May 2, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse


Breaking News: DCU's Prognosis 'Grim'

Posted by: RK | May 2, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Well, that sucks.

Does, "...the percentages of you playing again are not good." Refer to this season or his career?

I really hope Benny can get back on the field with United-if not this season then next season.

It would suck for his MLS playing career to end do to an injury. Although, given his history, it would seem inevitable.

Posted by: TCompton | May 2, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Boy what a downer for a Friday afternoon. I love Ben's work ethic, the leadership and poise he brings on the field. Not to mention our midfield isn't that great without him. Ben get well, I know a lot of us are praying you can return to full health!

Posted by: beltwayrob | May 2, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

We are pulling for you, Benny!

Best of luck.

Posted by: Andrew | May 2, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

He is so fun to watch. He will be missed this season.

Posted by: Rex North | May 2, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Terrible news. Benny has been missed on the field.
If this is the end of his career, i hope he lands a cushy comentator job or a position coaching. I think he could be very successful in either capacity.

Posted by: bribri | May 2, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

If god is great benny will play for us once again.

Posted by: Bolivian DC Fan | May 2, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Well, that certainly sucks.

Posted by: Ryan | May 2, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

If 2007 turns out to be his last season - at least he left us with his best season as a pro. Ben will be sorely missed if he can't make it back.

Posted by: Henchlow | May 2, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he could jump on the one good foot with us in the stands :)

Posted by: JB | May 2, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Heaven forbid, but if this is the end of his career with Benny's smarts and humor I can see him coaching or hopefully replacing one of the morons on FSC.

Losing him would be a blow to the team, but refreshing to see an elite athlete prepared for life after playing.

We miss you on the field, Benny, and hope for a speedy recovery.

Posted by: Sam | May 2, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

He was a hero at UVA and has been my favorite DC player since he first stepped on the pitch.

I wish nothing but the best Ben and hope that your ankle can overcome the conventional wisdom of modern medicine and that we'll see you on the field again before you depart the Black and Red as a player.

I don't know what your career plans are after you've left this game as a player - but if they include being a coach or GM of some sort - well I hope that a spot can be created for you.

Vamos Benny!

Posted by: Virginia Blue Blood | May 2, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

So can we trade for a leader now? 'Cuz I don't see one on our current roster...

Posted by: Dema | May 2, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

well that sucks but very best wishes for you as a first time season ticket holder. If there is any chance it will not recover, he should retire and come into the front office to show his work ethic. This way the salary cap opens and we can bring a replace a world class striker.

Posted by: td | May 2, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Everything I want to say will be edited by the censor :-(

Posted by: Lonnie | May 2, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Damn. Just damn. :-(

Posted by: EdTheRed | May 2, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Sad, sad day, kind of expected it though. I love Ben and was so happy 2 years ago when he got the WC2006 callup. I hope this isnt the end, best of luck to you Ben! We're all with you.

Posted by: strago | May 2, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Sad indeed. Is this the same ankle he hurt while playing in England??

Posted by: Rocko | May 2, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

That just ruined a lazy Friday afternoon :-(

Hope for the best for Benny.

Posted by: Kev | May 2, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

David Halberstam once talked about how Bill Walton was a great athlete - from the knees and up, but below that it was a different story. Ben Olsen has a little bit of that in him as well. His ankles and feet just cannot take the pounding that they need to take as a professional athlete. He is a wonderful player if he can get on the field, but getting on the field is a problem when your ankles and feet won't let you.

Hopefully Ben will play for DC again, but if he doesn't, I wonder if he will get into coaching. I think that he would make a dynamite coach if he wanted to be.

Posted by: Shame | May 2, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I hope Benny appreciates how much DC United fans are rooting for him and will miss him if he cannot return to the field. I will always remember that great game he had last season against Red Bull, when the sun shone on him. Actually, his 3 goals that night were the result of a smart player knowing where to be on the field and making the most of opportunities handed to him.

Of course, it is his passion that DC United misses most this season and that the fans will miss if he cannot return.

Posted by: ho | May 2, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Sad indeed. Is this the same ankle he hurt while playing in England??

Posted by: Rocko | May 2, 2008 1:17 PM

I think he had operations on both ankles at that stage of his career.

Posted by: tri-village | May 2, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

If anyone can come back it is Benny. I hope it is this year, but next will do too. Benny, we are all pulling for you. If anyone can make it, you can. You are a great player. Follow the Doc's orders.

Posted by: bubbles | May 2, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

This team is pretty much done. I can't see them making the playoffs at all. No leadership what so ever and the new players have not really gelled. Where is the 2007 MVP by the way?

Posted by: Joe | May 2, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Just awful news for Ben, our team and our fans. But unfortunately not entirely unexpected. I wonder if this news regarding Ben is connected to Kasper and Payne being in Argentina? One wonders if the brain trust is down there looking for another flank midfielder to replace Ben?

Posted by: rob | May 2, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I think I'm going to be sick.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | May 2, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

That's just horrible news. I'm not even a DCU fan, but Olsen "is" MLS and did a solid job in the last World Cup . . . really proud of him and for MLS for his performance.

Best of luck Ben.

Posted by: Curtis Spiteri | May 2, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Arrgh, rough news for Ben. Here's hoping for a successful recovery.

Posted by: Juan-John | May 2, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Benny's leadership, grit and determination will be missed on the field. I hope that he can come back.

If not, his future lies in broadcasting. Soccer on TV in the U.S. needs ex-players with Benny's expertise and wit to liven things up. Now that the first generation of MLS players are retiring (after 13 years) they can start to fill up the ranks of soccer-related positions. We have some coaches and GMs who spent some time in the league too. I expect that number to continue to grow.

Benny, stay involved in the sport. Soccer needs you!

Posted by: GoldenChild | May 2, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I was over at RFK at practice time the other day and was chatting with some of the low level support staff. Asked how the soccer players behave, this person raved about how nice they all were from the front office folks all the way down. (When the Nats were there it was a different story - not a nice bunch!)

Ben is one of the key class acts of the team, and I witnessed his friendly and respectful behavior towards someone who he can't gain anything from. You can always tell someone's character by how they treat underlings.

This is all a long winded way of saying he's a great player and has added a lot to the team. I agree he should move to the front office. They need his spirit and energy.

Posted by: HS | May 2, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I am so sorry for Benny... I always liked him as our version of Milan's Gattuso.

Last year I thought him as ideal over-23 addition to the Olympic team - his leadership and energy on and off the field would've been indispensable.

He IS a smart guy. But can he coach? Maybe youngsters for start?

Posted by: Tolik | May 2, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

It would benefit Ben to do what is necessary and take this entire season off. He may be able to come back next season. That way DC could write off his salary and then have some cash for a DP player (read Riquelme :) ) that they can bring back from Argentina.

I wish Ben the best but if we cannot use him this season then we need to get some replacements now and with his salary we should be able to find the cash for another DP.


Posted by: james | May 2, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

This is terrible news. Here's hoping for a full recovery. We're with you, Ben.

Posted by: Kosh | May 2, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Benny, you're still the heart and sould of this team! I wish you could enjoy the national team success that you deserve too...I'm sorry to hear the bad news.

But, hey, you better be up there calling the DCU games, if you aren't going to be playing...I hear TV & Radio calling!

Posted by: Cameron, Gainesville, VA | May 2, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

erif nheos

erih einneb

Posted by: d, dc | May 2, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

This team is pretty much done. I can't see them making the playoffs at all. No leadership what so ever and the new players have not really gelled. Where is the 2007 MVP by the way?

Posted by: Joe | May 2, 2008 1:30 PM

Seriously? A month into the season and you're going to write off the entire team because Benny can't be on the field? Will he be missed? Abso-frikkin'-lutely, but he's not the entire team. A lot will happen in the next few months. I'm sure we're all hoping for the best for Benny and we're hoping for the best with DCU.

Posted by: Beaker | May 2, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

sigh... this is a super bummer

when jamil was out for the season last year, he was paid a salary but it didn't count against the cap, right?

get better soon, bennie!

Posted by: pat | May 2, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm in total agreement with Beaker. A team is not just one player. Ben is a true leader and the heart of this team. But we have other players who can rise to lead the team. All the best to Benny- I still think he's the best midfielder in MLS.

Posted by: Suz | May 2, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

A team may not be one player, but its been shown that Olsen is pretty much irreplacable in the line-up. Very sad news if he has to retire.

Posted by: Mark | May 2, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

i had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that this news was coming all along; i can only imagine how hard it is for benny.

i am positive that if his on-field days are in fact over, he is not done with soccer.

Posted by: jess | May 2, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

This sucks. :(

Posted by: Red Devil | May 2, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Suz and Beaker. This is terrible news for Benny, and the league also loses a great competitor who helped knit DC together. But he's not the only player on DC... and good leaders develop over time, too. Hopefully someone will do that for DC. Now as a Chicago fan I'd be happy if DCU would just roll over and play dead for the rest of the season when it's our turn to meet United... but I prefer good tough entertaining matches and DC usually delivers on that count. Without Olsen, not as much maybe. He's a fierce competitor, and as much as you hate to play him, he's still someone you respect in the end.

Posted by: Modibo | May 2, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

erif nheos

erih einneb

Posted by: d, dc | May 2, 2008 1:40 PM


ngis-er niatsirhc zemog

,spoo oot etal

Posted by: Mysterian | May 2, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, you could see this coming a mile away.

Good luck, Benny, we're rooting for you.

Posted by: Max J. | May 2, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Ben Olsen will one day be the head coach of DCU.

Posted by: Phil | May 2, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

For all you glass-half-empty folks, here's the glass-half-full take: Maybe this will give the team something to rally around. Win one for Ben, or something along those lines.

Personally, Ben has been my favorite United player since I met him at the team auction in '01 (perhaps appropriately, he was on crutches at the time), so this sucks big time. I'll be rocking my Olsen jersey at DSG on Sunday in his honor. At least he can be there in spirit.

Posted by: Kenobi | May 2, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Well, that's not unexpected, and still it sucks to hear it.

Hope it can work out somehow for Olsen to return.

Posted by: Rob | May 2, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

To James: I wrote here about this yesterday. Sadly, I was expecting this news. I suspect that DCU won't take a cap hit for Olsen -- but I can't imagine that would clear enough cap room for a DP. None of us know the particulars, but I imagine DCU will need more room. Olsen's deal is for $215k -- that's under half the cap hit for a DP. However, if they dealt Emilio by mid-season -- that, along with Olsen's sitting out the year -- one would think that could clear enough cap room, though there might have to be one more move.

We've got to use that DP this year or next. My question is what happens after that? If Gallardo and player X are already under contract, will the DP rules continue to apply -- in effect, do we hold on to Colorado's DP slot, so long as player X is under contract?

Having said all that -- Olsen has been my favorite player on DCU for years. He's missed on the field, and now it looks as if hell be missed in the stands, too. Hope that he's not done. If he can make it back, imagine the ovation....If not, there damn well better be a Ben Olsen Day....

Posted by: Fisch Fry | May 2, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

pǝʇıun ɔp ɟo ʇɹɐǝɥ ǝɥʇ 'uǝslo uǝq

Posted by: JonINVB | May 2, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Damn. I wish the best for Benny. He's been the heart of DC United, and is an excellent player. I hope that he can fully recover. He's the kind of guy that you can't replace.

Posted by: Dave | May 2, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

And, along those lines -- in case anyone knows the answer -- if we add a DP midseason, does the salary cap hit get pro-rated? If so, there are a range of possibilities to make this work....

Posted by: Fisch Fry | May 2, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Damn! That's horrible news for Ben.

Ben's workman attitude, leadership and willingness to mix it up will be missed by United and us fans.

To me he has always been a lot like Dale Hunter was for the Caps. Great leader, capable of quality goal scoring and passing and a great mind for the game. But he's also a tough guy who can play the role of enforcer if necessary, and is always capable of getting into the other team's head.

Beninho is truly a United legend and should be next on the Tradition of Excellence Banner should he be forced to retire.

Posted by: Matthai | May 2, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I suspected that this would happen based on age and injury history.

It's time to consider the future and physically where you want to be in 5, 10, 20 years. Does he want to limp around forever?

You've been great Benny but if it is time to hand 'em up take no shame you did a job well done.

Posted by: Jeff | May 2, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Gros and now Olsen. Our gringos are cursed.

I hope they still continue to show his Dick's ad, easily the best soccer ad on TV.

Posted by: Southeasterner | May 2, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Here's the deal - Ben *can* still play....

Remember the knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? The one who was feisty and never gave up? Even without arms and legs, he still taunted the the opponent, threatening to bleed on him?

That's our Ben. Let him loose....

Posted by: The Solution | May 2, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

@The Solution:

Thanks for the Python Reference. That's a nice trip down memory lane, but a reminder of just how old I've become.

Now I just need to find some paper towels so I can dry the soda off my monitor. Thanks!

Posted by: DCUInWheaton | May 2, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Gros and now Olsen. Our gringos are cursed.

Posted by: Southeasterner | May 2, 2008 2:44 PM

Clearly someone used voodoo dolls on Gros and Olsen last year, it's just that Olsen is so tough he managed to make it through the season.

Suspect #1 is Mastodon Juan -- I suggest a Section 135 raid on his home before he finishes the incantations to take Gallardo out. I believe they will also find an Emilio doll submerged in a jar of molasses -- thus explaining his glacial pace this season.

Posted by: edgeonyou | May 2, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Ben Olsen is why I'm a DC United fan.

Posted by: hoyanick | May 2, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

This is certainly a depressing prognosis. But you know. It looked like his career was over once before, and he came back. And then got to set foot on the field in the World Cup. So who knows.

Even if this is it - while it sucks for the team, Ben is a smart guy who knows that there's a world to be had off the soccer pitch and I have every confidence he'll land on his feet. (Not too hard though I hope.)

Posted by: John | May 2, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

.dnim gnikcuf rieht tsol sah ereh enoyreve doG ot raews I

Posted by: Oop. Aack! | May 2, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for everything, Benny (I write this as though I expect him to be on here reading these--although maybe...)! You've been the heart and soul of this team and part of the reason I grew to love DC United.

Here's to a speedy recovery.

Posted by: Papa | May 2, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I think edgeonyou might be on to something...

(brilliant molasses remark)

Posted by: Papa | May 2, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he got hurt for a reason. I am sure someone new can fill his shoes. It's not the end of the world. I do not understand why some people are going bipolar.

Posted by: El Realistico | May 2, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Shot in the dark here, but does (could) this have anything to do with the trip down to South America for the DCU brass? Finding a replacement, of sorts, for Ben...

Posted by: Bill | May 2, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

What a crappy birthday present for you Ben Olsen.
He and my daughter share their birthday(it's tommorow!)
Someone let him know that if he wants to come to a baby Luau he's invited. We live on Rt 50 @ George Mason Drive...
I am afraid all the Kalua pig, Huli Huli chicken, and Mac salad won't cheer him up though. cold beers probably won't either.
Ben you are my favorite United player and my One year old daughter was already in training to hold dear her shared b-day with the Heart of DC United.
Keep your head up high and think positive Ben our thoughts are with you.

Posted by: Dadryan | May 2, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

"If anyone can come back it is Benny. I hope it is this year, but next will do too. Benny, we are all pulling for you. If anyone can make it, you can. You are a great player. Follow the Doc's orders."

Posted by: bubbles | May 2, 2008 1:25 PM

Well said, bubbles.

Posted by: David | May 2, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully Benny will be in the front office. I knew it all along that he would probably not be coming back. The few interviews he gave, were very disheartening, and it seemed like his travels all over the country were a desperate attempt to find any good news...Best of luck Ben. Thanks for being a great player for DCU for so long! You will not be able to be replaced!

Posted by: Alan | May 2, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

His ankle may be shot but can we put Benny's heart into one of these rookies at least?

Posted by: BK | May 2, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

If this is the end, it's much too soon.

But keep Olsen in mind next time you are tempted to gloat about Reyna's injury woes.

Posted by: Mastodon Juan | May 2, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

This is terrible news for United and Ben.

Posted by: Corftonpost | May 2, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

we feel for you Benny

Posted by: London Dan | May 2, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

That's awful for Ben.

And is a big hit for United. Historically, I haven't been a big Olsen fan but the last couple of years he's absolutely been a key cog on United's team.

Anyone knows where wooly mammoths can be found in NY?

Posted by: Kire | May 2, 2008 7:04 PM | Report abuse

This is for sucks. For Ben, DCU and MLS. He's been a stand-up guy through it all from his first year and doesn't deserve another month on the bench, let alone half a season or more.

Posted by: McCrum | May 2, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse


6 points out of first place with 205 days until the MLS Cup is NOT finished. Be real.

Posted by: Curious | May 2, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

If nothing else, lets hope he makes a reovery that lets him enjoy the rest of his life. Not one like those poor football lineman...

Posted by: good health | May 2, 2008 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Here's to more rounds of golf and goofing off Ben.
Have a kid.
Stay home and raise it and send the old lady back to work...
You'll never miss a Champions League match again.

Posted by: Dadryan | May 2, 2008 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Ben, we're praying for your recovery.

Posted by: rrp | May 2, 2008 11:36 PM | Report abuse

benny olsen is my favorite DC United player and he probably always will be. I wish him all the best and hope he beats the odds and comes back. I remember him fondly coming off the bench to appear in the 2006 World Cup and his noteworthy stable play in what was an otherwise disappointing appearance by the US in the Copa America last year.

you have to wonder, if these surgeries were supposed to make things better, then perhaps he should've not undergone them and went back to his 2007 self (?)

get better soon Benny. and if the unthinkable happens and there's no more time with DCU on the field I implore the organization to take him on in some role...

Posted by: diego r. | May 3, 2008 12:38 AM | Report abuse

in more pragmatic terms, this means that DCU desperately needs a right winger. McTavish is certainly not a long or even medium term prospect at right wing. Santino can fill in there for a while but he too is not a right winger. We need one bad... unfortunately, we couldn't have nabbed Terry Cooke from Colorado.

with Josh Gros and Ben Olsen out for DCU with injuries our (somewhat anemic) wing play from last season is now even worse

Posted by: diego r. | May 3, 2008 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Wow who would have though that 2007 would be the last year for two of the most loved and best players DCU ever produced.

Josh was a pure energy ball, and perhaps the successor to Benny as the heart of the team.

But Ben was what made the team tick, and the heart that never gave up not until the last whistle, ever.

I don't think I will ever forget that half-field shot that hit the side netting against Chicago last year. And I will certainly not forget either of these great players.

We clearly have missed them both through the first 10 games. Hopefully they can make it back out in 2009

Posted by: BBFunnyMan | May 3, 2008 12:46 AM | Report abuse

I guess we need another Three Mile Island-type incident. It might produce another Olsen in a coupla decades.

Posted by: tri-village | May 3, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Watching that hat trick last year was one of the most transcendent experiences of my life.

Love ya, Benny.

Posted by: Colm | May 3, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

FCD fan here hoping for the best outcome for Benny. He also had bad injury luck prior to at least one of those earlier World Cups. darn it all. I remember him going up against Felipe in that DCU x Vasco da Gama InterAmerica Cup '98 pair of matches. I ask refs to call the fouls, minimize the injuries.

Posted by: Ze Bill | May 3, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

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