- California’s Jerry Brown cites God, ‘religious call’ to embrace illegals
- Hamid Karzai’s cousin killed by suicide bomber at Eid al-Fitr party
- Obama thanks Muslims for ‘building the very fabric of our nation’
- Israel flattens home of top Hamas leader, takes out power plant
- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
MLS All-Star Game: Olsen’s view different for European test
Question of the Day
PHILADELPHIA — Back in his playing days with D.C. United, Ben Olsen relished the chance to test himself when European giants came across the pond. Sure, the friendlies didn’t count in the standings. But no matter the stage, going head-to-head with world-class talent is a special experience.
Now United’s coach, Olsen on Wednesday will lead the MLS All-Stars against UEFA Champions League winner Chelsea FC at PPL Park. Joining him for the festivities at the Philadelphia Union’s home on the banks of the Delaware River in Chester, Pa., will be United attackers Dwayne De Rosario and Chris Pontius.
The circumstances aren’t ideal, as Olsen led just two light training sessions with the thrown-together squad. Still, the spectacle figures to be a memorable occasion.
“As a player, I always loved those moments,” Olsen said. “As a coach, it’s a little bit different. I’m not here to overcoach — I’m here to facilitate and give guidelines so we can have a chance to succeed against a great team. But it’s not an easy task. You have 48 hours to get a team on the same page, and hopefully we’ll click.”
While Olsen’s roster is loaded with talent from around the league, including international icons David Beckham and Thierry Henry, as well as MLS stalwarts Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski, the presence of De Rosario and Pontius gives him welcome familiarity.
It’s the seventh All-Star selection for De Rosario, the reigning MLS Most Valuable Player who leads the league with 10 assists. In 2006, it was De Rosario who scored to give MLS a 1-0 win over Chelsea in the Blues’ only other All-Star Game appearance.
“You approach it like you approach any other game,” said De Rosario, who was appointed the All-Stars’ captain by Olsen. “All of us are professionals, we all want to compete, we all want to win. At the end of the day, I think that’s our goal and our objective. We know we’re going out there representing our teams, ourselves and this league, and you want to have a good performance.”
Pontius, on the other hand, is making his All-Star debut.
The honor comes after the 25-year-old came back from a broken leg in September and an early-season benching to score nine goals.
“I’m just trying to take everything in and enjoy it,” Pontius said. “It’s good in the sense that there’s not three points on the line when we’re stepping out there. Obviously, the level of competition is very, very good, so it’s a good test.”
As in any All-Star Game, the mishmash roster unearths some unique connections. For Pontius, his All-Star experience has been made all the more special by the presence of longtime friend Dan Kennedy, a fellow UC Santa Barbara product and Southern California native.
“I’m really going to enjoy playing with [Pontius] tomorrow,” said Kennedy, goalkeeper for Chivas USA. “And I like playing against him too — there’s always something to prove.”
Managing the minutes of other coaches’ prized assets, on the other hand, is a bit trickier, considering MLS play returns to action Friday.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Luis Silva realizes potential in D.C. United playmaking role
- United, D.C. hope this new stadium plan will be the last
- Jared Jeffrey returns to U.S. in search of playing time after European tour
- Sonny Silooy's career has evolved from standout defender to standout talent developer
- Alain Rochat adjusts to D.C. United move with growing family on his mind
Latest Blog Entries
- Jason Levien, Ben Olsen discuss D.C. United's $300M stadium plan
- Conor Doyle loan continues D.C. United youth movement
- Ben Olsen discusses trading Brandon McDonald to Real Salt Lake
- Interview outtakes: Sonny Silooy
- Hello Luis Silva, Collin Martin, goodbye Alain Rochat: Breaking down D.C. United's busy day
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Border surge puts Obama legacy on immigration at stake
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- EPSTEIN: All IRS roads lead to the archivist
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- PRUDEN: When the hangman botches the job
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia's gay marriage ban
- KEENE: Thinking outside nanny-state box with Paul Ryan
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq