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Washington, D.C., (05/02/2022) – Today, the Washington Spirit and Ben Olsen jointly announce that Olsen has decided to step down from his role as club president. Olsen leaves after spending eight months leading the club’s operations to the 2021 NWSL Championship, for which he was honored on-field during the Spirit’s season opening match yesterday, and through the transition of majority ownership to Michele Kang.
“Ben steered us through a tumultuous period and righted the ship,” Kang said. “Ben’s expertise and character allowed our players to keep their focus on the field and our staff members to keep their eyes on the road ahead. Over the last few months, he has played an instrumental role in the transition period leading up to the start of the regular season. We will all miss working with him.”
Olsen was hired as club president on September 2, 2021 to oversee the team’s business and sporting operations after leaving D.C. United in 2020 after more than twenty years with the club as a player and coach.
“The last eight months have been a challenging but very rewarding time for all of us at the Spirit,” Olsen said. “It’s been an honor to help steady the organization and contribute to bringing another championship to the city I love.”
Olsen’s tenure was highlighted by new highs and great successes for the Washington Spirit and he leaves the club in a better place than he found it. Olsen was brought in to lead the club through a difficult period of time, managing the situation with care and winning the trust of all parties within the club. Despite underlying issues, the club prospered as Olsen used his years of extensive professional soccer experience, expertise and credibility to oversee both business and soccer operations over an eight-month period. While steadying the club on the business side, the 2021 team won the NWSL Championship and went undefeated under his tenure. Following the Championship-winning season, Olsen led an offseason that saw the Spirit retain its top talent.
“Ben has been someone we could all count on during my time here,” said head coach Kris Ward. “We wouldn’t be in the position we are today if it weren’t for his leadership. Ben’s shoes will be tough to fill but we are excited to see what his future holds.”
“Ben joined us at possibly our worst time and under difficult circumstances,” said Team Co-Captain Andi Sullivan. “He boldly embraced that and ultimately helped us win our first NWSL Championship. I hope we can stay connected to him in whatever he does next.”
Olsen worked closely with Washington Spirit owners and the league office in facilitating the ownership transition process. Since then, Olsen has played an important role in the early days of Kang’s tenure as majority owner as she sets the framework for the club’s bright future.
“I would like to thank the Washington Spirit ownership group for this opportunity. I’ve been fortunate to see a professional sporting organization from all sides and this role took that even further,” Olsen said. “This Washington Spirit team is the greatest women’s soccer team this country’s ever seen. I’m excited to see the team continue to grow under Michele’s leadership.”
The Washington Spirit kicked off its 2022 season on May 1 with a 2-1 win against OL Reign. The Spirit will host the Reign again on Wednesday, May 4 in a Challenge Cup semifinal match at Audi Field.
About Ben Olsen
Ben Olsen is an MLS legend, having spent more than two decades at D.C. United, winning two MLS Cups as a player, being named MLS Rookie of the Year in 1998 and MLS Cup MVP in 1999 and being named MLS Coach of the Year during his 11 years as the team’s coach. Olsen made 37 appearances with the U.S. national team, including during the 2000 Olympics and 2006 World Cup after a decorated college career at the University of Virginia, where he made two College Cup trips and was named the 1997 Soccer America player of the year. Olsen has deep involvement in multiple community initiatives in the Washington area, including serving as a board member for D.C. Scores, which delivers soccer and poetry programs to over 3,000 children across the city. An accomplished painter, Olsen resides in the District with his wife Megan and their three children.
About the Washington Spirit
The Washington Spirit is the professional women’s soccer team based at Segra Field in Leesburg, Va and Audi Field in Washington, D.C. Launched in 2012, the Spirit play in the National Women’s Soccer League, the premier women’s soccer competition in North America. For more information about the Spirit, visit www.WashingtonSpirit.com, follow the club on Twitter @WashSpirit and on Facebook at facebook.com/washingtonspirit.