Olsen and DCU
Excerpts from Ben Olsen's news conference:
The decision to retire.....
"This season was great getting back. I didn't think it was going to happen, but to get back and get through this year, I got through it - let's say - through modern medicine. It was definitely with help of anti-inflammatories and shots and things I don't know how long you want to keep doing. As the season ended, I wanted to cleanse myself from a lot of that stuff and then the reality hit. The ankle showed itself. It spooked me a little bit, it spooked my wife, the way I couldn't carry my child down the stairs at times. You come to a crossroads: At what cost do you come back and play? Anybody who knows me, I think about tomorrow and not next year. I was ready and willing to do it again but fortunately I talked to enough people and came to my senses, and I think I am making the right decision."
On becoming D.C. United's head coach.....
"I would not like to be considered for the head coaching job and I am in no way ready to step into that role. As far as a role with the club, of course, that is definitely one of the options that might be available down the line. There are a lot of things up in the air with the club and I have to wait like everybody else and see how they unfold. If there is an opportunity, I am all ears. There is other stuff out there. I have some anxiety about what is next, but I am excited to see a new challenge."
The impact of his broken ankle in 2001.....
"I lost a step, for sure. In some aspects I got better. I think I got better a little bit upstairs [smarter] than on the physical side. I was a bad player when I was young. I watched the tape of when I was a rookie and it makes me sick. I can't even watch them. I just ran and ran and ran. I had no idea what I was doing, but I got away with it because I ran so much, so people gave me the benefit of the doubt because, at some point, I would tire the other guy out, flub and cross and Roy Lassiter would put it in. I enjoyed my soccer a lot more as I got older. I started to understand the game a little bit, started to slow down and not be as streaky. I always strived to be a consistent player, but it didn't happen until late. ... I was never that great of a soccer player, but I fit in. I had a knack of fitting in and working hard and doing what I needed to do."
Much more on the continuation.....
Santino Quaranta's thoughts.....
"When I called him when things were bad for me, he helped me so much as a person. It's not about the soccer; everybody knows what he does on the soccer field and everyone respects that. For me, it's the bigger picture of who he is as a person. He gave me hope. He was the person who said I could come back from all of it, and afterward, I believed I could."
DCU President Kevin Payne .....
"There have been many, many great players over the years at D.C. United ... but I don't know if any of them made any greater impact on the culture of this club and on the hearts of our fans than Ben Olsen."
"There's regret, there's disappointment, there's the thought that, 'What if these ankles never acted up? Where would I be?' I'd have a bigger house. [laughter] The more I think about it, my feelings become relief that I don't have to deal with this, relief that I don't have to deal with the pain for another year. It's not that great; I don't mean to be dramatic about the pain, but it was part of my life, and as you play, it definitely consumes your year."
On the supporters at RFK.....
"The one thing I know I am going to miss is the crowd and the support they give me. I am a bit of a ham and I tend to eat that stuff up. The Heart of Lion banner, I still get chills thinking about that day. ... They really picked my spirits up and got me through some tough times."
Living in Washington.....
"It took me a while to embrace the city. I was in Fairfax, Chevy Chase Circle area, Arlington, I kept creeping closer. I came into the city and fell in love with it. I see a lot of people on the streets who come up to me. It's a nice feeling that this community has always supported me."
The decision to walk away.....
"When you can't carry [his daughter] down the stairs, it's not that tough of a decision. Maybe it will be next year when things pick up again and I realize I am not going to be on the field. But right now I feel at ease with this decision."
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