- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ben Olsen is still basking in the media glow after scoring his first hat trick in D.C. United’s 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls at RFK Stadium on Sunday.

“If you play in this league for 10 years, you are bound to have a day when things go your way,” said Olsen, the MLS player of the week, before a larger than usual midweek gathering of reporters after practice yesterday at RFK. “I think that was the case the other day. The stars aligned. … The few times I got shots on goal, they went in.

“I got more calls and e-mails than I did for my wedding. People were blown, and I understand why. Guys around the league see the score sheet, and they are calling somebody, ‘Did Ben really score three goals?’ Then I get texts from guys I haven’t talked to in a long time.”

Olsen, who leads United in scoring with four goals this season, heard from former United teammate Ezra Hendrickson, who couldn’t believe Olsen’s feat.

“I texted him back and told him it was true,” Olsen said.

The 30-year-old Olsen has a habit of scoring goals against New York, with 10 of his 25 career goals coming against the franchise. However, Olsen was clear to point out this Red Bulls team looked tired.

“They weren’t the New York Red Bulls I’ve seen all season,” Olsen said. “They were fatigued, and Claudio [Reyna] had a concussion and broke his nose early, so he wasn’t at his best.”

Meanwhile, United could be missing Olsen for a number of games later this month and in July. It appears likely he will called up by the U.S. national team for the Copa America tournament, which runs from June 26 to July 15 in Venezuela. Olsen and two of his United teammates, defenders Bobby Boswell and Bryan Namoff, have been told to get the needed vaccinations for entry into Venezuela.

“I know I’m on the list, and I’m getting shots on Monday just in case,” Olsen said. “[U.S. team officials] know who I am, and they know what I’m about. I would never say no to the U.S. national team.”

The Copa America, South America’s biggest tournament, begins two days after the Gold Cup ends. U.S. coach Bob Bradley has indicated he will call in a number of MLS players to replace the European-based players who return to their clubs after the Gold Cup.

Olsen last played for the U.S. team at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He came off the bench and played 51 minutes in the team’s final game against Ghana on June 22. He has played 35 times for the U.S. team, scoring six goals.

United captain Jaime Moreno was called up by the Bolivian national team for the Copa America on Tuesday. He will miss at least four United games. With Moreno gone, Olsen — United’s second-longest tenured player — likely will take on more leadership duties against the Chicago Fire at RFK on Saturday when United tries to add to its six-game unbeaten streak.

Ben has always been a leader by his actions,” United coach Tom Soehn said. “He is a man of few words. When you see how he plays, it motivates you.”



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