- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 12, 2002

D.C. United midfielder Ben Olsen could be wearing American colors again after almost two years. Olsen said this week that U.S. coach Bruce Arena contacted him about the exhibition game against El Salvador at RFK Stadium on Nov.17.
"Bruce e-mailed me and said he wants me in camp and to get ready," said Olsen. "I'm very excited about this. I've been away from the team for nearly two years. This is another step for me to get back playing at the national level."
Olsen was a regular player with the national team until he suffered a career-threatening ankle injury that required four operations and kept him out for 16 months. His last game in an American jersey was a 2-1 win over China at Oakland, Calif., in January 2001. Olsen, who has played 19 games and scored three goals for the United States, would have been a candidate for the World Cup team had he not been injured.
The speedy right-flank player returned to United's lineup at the end of July. As Olsen gradually got fit, he became a key player in the club's improvement near the end of the season. However, his leadership on the field and in the locker room was not enough to help United earn a berth in Major League Soccer's postseason.
"It's unacceptable not to make the playoffs three years in a row," said Olsen, who is a candidate for the MLS Comeback Player of the Year Award. "The playoffs would have been perfect, as I was just getting really fit."
The game against El Salvador will be the first international match for the U.S. team since its run at the World Cup in South Korea this summer, where the Americans reached the quarterfinals. The U.S. team is 12-6-1 in 2002.
Arena is likely to name a number of new players to the roster and looks certain to call up former Maryland star Taylor Twellman, the MLS 2002 points leader.
"I anticipate looking at many players over the next year, and the match against El Salvador will provide an opportunity to get a first look at some new faces," Arena said.
United London-bound D.C. United left for London today for Thursday's Tottenham Tribute Match against English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur. Fifteen players made the trip: Bobby Convey, Ali Curtis, Marco Etcheverry, Justin Mapp, Mike McGinty, Ivan McKinley, Jaime Moreno, Ben Olsen, Eddie Pope, Santino Quaranta, Eliseo Quintanilla, Milton Reyes, Nick Rimando, Petter Villegas and Richie Williams. In addition, San Jose Earthquakes defenders Wade Barrett and Jeff Agoos will travel with United as guest players, replacing injured defenders Ryan Nelsen and Brandon Prideaux.
"Teams continue to bond in these trips," Olsen said. "This game is an opportunity to show we have a good league here in America."
Former Tottenham players Jurgen Klinsmann, Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne (the latter had a tryout with United this summer) will play for their old club against United.
Revolution on a roll The New England Revolution need only a tie against the visiting Columbus Crew today to face the Los Angeles Galaxy on their home turf in the MLS Cup at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 20. The Galaxy downed Colorado this week to book a place at their fourth MLS Cup. The Crew needs to beat the Revolution and force a 20-minute series tiebreaker.
Tragic accident Three members of the U.S. youth national teams program were involved in an car accident early yesterday morning on Interstate 85 in Spartanburg County, S.C.
Gray Griffin, 18, was killed after his sport utility vehicle overturned and was hit by a tractor-trailer. Also injured were two of Griffin's former U.S. under-17 national team teammates, Chefik Simo and Josh Villalobos, and one of their teammates at Furman University, Sean Murray. The four players were returning to school from Charlotte, N.C.
"To lose one of our own under such tragic circumstance affects each and every one of us," U.S. Soccer president S. Robert Contiguglia said.
Griffin, a native of Huntersville, N.C., served as one of the U.S. under-17 co-captains in 2000 and 2001. He appeared in 77 matches over two years and played every minute of the 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Championship.
Simo, who suffered a fractured pelvis, is a native of Plano, Texas, who appeared in 15 games for the U.S. under-20 national team this year. Villalobos, a native of Fayetteville, N.C., is a member of the U.S. under-18 national team pool.
MLS expansion Tim Leiweke, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which operates six MLS clubs, including D.C. United, said this week the league is certain to expand within in the next year.
"The league will announce that it will be adding two more teams," Leiweke said. "Then we will add two more down the road."
Leiweke said AEG will not own these teams.
"Someday we will have 20 teams with 20 different owners," he said. "[AEG is] committed to Major League Soccer, but we don't want to dominate Major League Soccer. In about 20 years, I predict that professional soccer will be the second most popular sport in this country."


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