AP WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With only three wins from 18 games, and the famed club on course to post its worst season ever, D.C. United fired head coach Curt Onalfo on Wednesday. Former player and assistant coach, Ben Olsen has been named the interim head coach. Onalfo is the first coach in the history of the club to be fired in mid-season.
"This was a difficult and painful decision," said United president. "Curt is an outstanding person and a fine coach. This has certainly been a trying season, made more so by a number of factors outside of anyone's control. This decision is not about placing blame, but about looking forward. Recent performances have convinced us that we need to make a change at the top for the team to improve the remainder of this season, for 2011 and beyond. We wish Curt nothing but the best."
After 18 games, United has posted a 3-12-3 (12 points) record. The team has the league's worst attack, scoring just 12 goals, and the worst defense, after giving up 31 goals. The four-time MLS Cup champion has been hit by numerous injuries this season. Still, after signing a number of high-profile players, Onalfo has been unable to turn the team's fortunes around.
Olsen took over the role of head coach today, and must prepare the team for its game at the New England Revolution in Foxboro, Mass on Saturday. United's technical director, Chad Ashton, will serve as interim assistant Coach, while assistant coaches Kris Kelderman and Mark Simpson and will retain their roles with the club. Olsen only has been assistant coach for seven months.
"The first priority in appointing an interim coach was ensuring that he would understand the passion, pride and commitment expected from every player who wears a D.C. United uniform," said Payne. "There is no one better suited for that task than Ben Olsen. We've asked Ben to focus on three objectives for the balance of this season: prepare to win the next game, demand of our players the same commitment to the shirt that he displayed and determine which players demonstrate that they want to play for United next season."
As a player, Olsen was amongst the club's all-time leaders in several key categories at the time of his retirement last season - second in games played (221), minutes played (17,098) and game-winning goals (13), third in assists (49) and shots on goal (155), and seventh all-time in goals (29). He won eight trophies at United. He was the 1998 Rookie of the Year and the 1999 MLS Cup MVP.
"It is with mixed emotions that I accept this position," said Olsen. "Curt is a great friend and coach from whom I've learned a great deal. My job now is to get results for D.C. United. I'll give everything I have to do exactly that."
Onalfo leaves United after seven months at the helm after joining the team after being fired as head coach at the Kansas City Wizards. He compiled a record of 3-12-3 in MLS regular season play.