Part 1 of DCU: Past and Present Interviews – Ben OlsenBy: jon | December 2nd, 2008
This Q and A took place before MLS Cup, and because the Reserve division was canned that weekend, that question was dumb. But, since it was asked before then, it was deep and thoughtful. Enjoy.
Jon- I think it goes without saying that this season did not go as you planned. After a number of surgeries this season, do you wish that you had rested more before trying to come back, or are you glad that you kept trying to come back before finally shutting it down for the season?
Olsen: “After the third one where I played in that reserve game it felt pretty good. But then it got infected. Infection is a numbers game, and unfortunately I had so many surgeries I was bound to get infected from one of them. That kind of counted a lot. Then they had to go in and take things out, wash it down, take out screws, etc – a lot of work. It takes time to heal. Now we are in a time of letting it heal. We have a timeline to really give this thing the proper time to heal. We’ll reevaluate at that time. Whether or not I can play again. It’s pretty basic. We’ll wait another month or two, and then see if I can play. Then we’ll make some decisions regarding whether I can play anymore.”
Jon- What are your feelings about the ways DC United can improve itself, particularly regarding the MLS Draft? (I ask this because I read that you advised Jay Needham to follow the money to the USL instead of taking the developmental salary)
Olsen: “I think that’s really a better question for the coaches. We have our needs, as every team has needs. I think it depends on who they bring back, there’s still some contracts being negotiated. The makeup of our team right now isn’t concrete, and only the coaches know this. You can always use good defenders; always use someone to help us out up top. If a talented midfielder comes along you want to get that player. A lot of coaches would probably say you get the best player, the best opportunity. Not focusing on the position.”
Jon- Speaking of the developmental salary, there were a few articles written in the local papers about the salaries of players while looking at the cost of living in DC. Aside from living in teammates basement, a la your tenant Zach Wells, how do they do it? Are they big time coupon clippers? Sam’s Club members?
Olsen: “We all want the salaries from down to the bottom; we’d like them to move up. That’s a big priority for the Union. In particular in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. But they do OK, some of the lower/developmental guys, that’s more of an issue. They have to group up or live with a family. It’s no different than a kid coming out of college or a college kid really, they don’t make much money and they have to be resourceful.”
Jon- Do the players hate playing on football-lined fields as much as fans hate watching it happen?
Olsen: “I think that no one likes to play on football lines, and no one likes to watch it. But it is one of the growing pains of this league, we have a lot of them, but people are aware of that and you try your best to play on less. And I think we have. I see this League growing. Fans are impatient and rightfully so they want this League to be great. But there’s still going to be some growing pains, and that’s one of the many that are trying to be worked. And when you have New England for instance, football still run that area, and their owners I would say more heavily invested in the football team. That’s just how it goes.”
Jon- At this point, do you and your teammates care if a new stadium is built on Chincoteague island, or floating on top of the Potomac as long as you don’t have to endure rats, floods, and the lights turning off more than once a year during a game?
Olsen: “I think it would be just terrible if we didn’t get this stadium here in Washington DC. This is a soccer city, if not the biggest soccer city in the country. For us not to have a stadium in this city would be a big loss for the people of the city and our fans and the organization. But I realize that the powers that be make these calls and it’s a business and things have to go down. I don’t think RFK is a great situation for our owners.”
Jon- What improvements do you think could be made to the reserve division, beside giving your brother a permanent starting spot?
Olsen: “It was actually really nice of the coaching staff letting my brother sneak into a game he really enjoyed that. And about the Reserve League, I think they may be fading the Reserve League out next year so I don’t think that will be too much of an issue.”
Jon- You’re a well liked man in this city. Speaking solely for myself, I think it has a lot to do with your intensity, fire, and the visible desire to win. When you came out and talked about feeling a little bad about your situation with your salary and the possibility that it could hurt the team this year or next, that was highly commendable. This was a long run up to the question. Do you have any plans to run for Mayor, and single handedly secure the new stadium?
Olsen: “I have too many skeletons in my closet to run for Mayor. [Laughs]”
Jon- Do you, or any of the other guys, read blogs or the Big Soccer message boards to see what they’re talking about, and how many losses it takes for someone to need to be fired (3, if you’re wondering)?
Olsen: “I get my news from the Goffster. Steve Goff and his blog. I really don’t get too much involved in that stuff much more than that.”
Jon- USMNT. If your ankle recovers and you’re back to last year’s level, is your USMNT career over? How does that work, as far as remaining in the player pool.
Olsen: “I wouldn’t think I’m in the player pool. My days with the National team are pretty much over. Unless the ankle comes back and things go great next year I wouldn’t think I’m involved in that. I have bigger things on my mind, and first and foremost playing for DC United. The level you need to be at to play for the US Mens team is no less than 100%. I don’t see myself being at that level for quite a bit until I’m old and rusty and they don’t want me.”
Jon- At the annual equipment sale, someone is going to pay hard earned money for yours and others game worn shorts. Is that a strange feeling for you?
Olsen: “Yes, now that I think about it. I guess it is a bit weird. Although, they have some extra powerful detergent in the locker room, so I think they will be ok. [Laughs]”