- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2002

He hasn't played in a year. He's hobbled. He's rehabilitating. But when he is on his game, he's great.
Ben Olsen, D.C. United's star right flank midfielder, shot down suggestions that he might have a career-ending ankle problem. Olsen, 24, has undergone three right ankle surgeries in the past year and will find out today from Dr. Mark Myerson, a Baltimore ankle specialist, if he can begin rehabbing without a protective boot.
Right now, Olsen can't play. It is also undetermined when Myerson will clear him to run again. Even though he hasn't played competitive soccer in a year, Olsen doesn't rule out getting selected into the mix for this June's World Cup.
"If I can come back in a month and start playing good soccer, who knows," Olsen said. "I know it's a long shot this World Cup but if this [ankle] gets ready in three weeks and two weeks after that, I'm flying and I feel good, I would love to be considered to even come into a camp, or get a shot. Why not?"
Well, perhaps because Olsen hasn't played in a year. U.S. coach Bruce Arena has a pretty good idea especially coming off last week's Gold Cup championship who will comprise his roster.
Olsen's loan to English First Division club Nottingham Forest following the 2000 season is what started his ankle problem. He broke the ankle last March in a match and missed the entire Major League Soccer season. Olsen's fine play before his injury prompted Nottingham officials to consider buying out his contract from MLS.
The ankle injury quickly shelved any prospective deal. After having a pin inserted during surgery last March, Olsen felt fit enough to be loaned to the A-League's Hershey Wildcats, a United affiliate, last August and played 59 minutes of a double-overtime scoreless draw against the Connecticut Wolves.
"After he played the half against Hershey, we had him go see Myerson and he felt Ben's fracture wasn't healing because joint fluid was leaking into the fracture site," United trainer Rick Guter said. "[Myerson] felt the best course of treatment was to go back in and re-break the joint and re-screw it across the joint."
Even after his second operation, Olsen, who has 10 caps with the national team, still felt pain in the rear portion of his ankle. He underwent exploratory surgery last month during which Myerson repaired a slight tear of his ankle tendon.
It has been five weeks since Olsen's last operation. According to Guter, Olsen's rehab will start on a treadmill for cardiovascular work. From there, it's up to Olsen's ankle.
"If this works, then I'm physically 100 percent," said Olsen, who has 10 goals and 22 assists in 72 United matches. "There's no reason why this shouldn't work. People think that [my career is over] because it's been a long time. I've been out a year. It was a thing where we couldn't find the problem for a year, and now we've found the problem. The best case scenario: It's fixed."
Note U.S. Soccer announced that the men's national team will play Uruguay on May12 at RFK Stadium and Holland on May19 at new CMGI Field in Foxboro, Mass., as tuneup friendlies for the World Cup.

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