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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Thursday, June 21, 2012


D.C. United's Ben Olsen will lead the MLS All-Stars July 25 against Chelsea FC at PPL Park, the league announced Thursday.

The job had been Union boss Peter Nowak's...until he was fired eight days ago. So much for that plan.

It was bandied about that Nowak's successor, John Hackworth, would get the honor. That's partially the case, with Hackworth joining the rest of United's technical staff on the job.

"Ben Olsen has experience playing in All-Star Games and he has guided his team to one of the best records in MLS so far this season," said Nelson Rodriguez, MLS executive vice president of competition and game operations. "He and his staff also have a relatively short distance to travel and his club does not play a league match on the weekend after the All-Star Game. Adding John Hackworth at his side strengthens the group that will assemble and prepare our team for this important game."

Traditionally --- well, of lately --- the coach of the team in the All-Star Game's host city has been the coach. That left the job to Nowak. Since he was fired last week, it was kicked around online whether Hackworth would assume the duties.

Olsen seems like the perfect choice, as outlined above by Rodriguez. He's geographically close to Philly and his team is close to tops in the Eastern Conference, a previous pre-requisite for managing the MLS All-Stars. And Olsen's a Harrisburg native. Sounds like a good fit to me.

"This is a huge honor," Olsen said in a statement. "This league has been a major part of my life, both as a player and now as a coach, and it's given me a lot. Ultimately, this recognition comes because of my team and my staff, but to represent the league on a big stage like this is a real privilege."
Hackworth, who has managed just one game as a head coach in MLS, doesn't deserve the distinction bestowed upon Olsen. At least not yet. But it's absolutely a cool gesture on MLS' and Olsen's part to include Hackworth in the festivities. Should make for a fun weekend.

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