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D.C. United Announce the Departure of Head Coach Ben Olsen

And there we have it folks. It is official, Ben Olsen is no longer D.C. United Head Coach. As interim boss, that will be taken care of by Chad Ashton until a replacement is found.

Personally, I want to thank Ben for everything he has done for the club. It hasn’t been the easiest of times for him, but he has overseen some of the best times this club has had. Record points tally, the opening of Audi Field, being part of a side that has included the likes of Bill Hamid, Jaime Moreno, Marco Etcheverry, Paul Arriola, Lucho Acosta and not forgetting Wayne Rooney. As a player, he is a legend, as a head coach, maybe not remembered as fondly. He has won a U.S. Open Cup, but that was all. Unfortunately, that same year was one of the worst years in club history for the league. This year might top that, however. 2020 has been an odd year and for any coach that has made life difficult. He hasn’t had it easy, not that I’m making excuses, but an array of injuries to star players, restarts aplenty among a packed schedule has not made his life any easier, but, each time has dealt with most of the same issues and have not dealt with it in the same way.

I will always be thankful for the fact that he came onto the podcast, this little show in the UK via a Skype video call, spent over an hour with me reminiscing of the old playing days and his coaching career, for that, I am forever grateful, I can always say that not only have I had the head coach of my favourite soccer side, but a club legend.

It is with a heavy heart to say goodbye to one of our own as a head coach, I wish Ben all the best in his next chapter and hopefully I will be able to speak to him again soon.

D.C. United have announced that Ben Olsen will depart as head coach of the club effective immediately. Assistant Coach, Chad Ashton will assume the role of Interim Manager. 

While Olsen will no longer move forward as the head coach of D.C. United, he and the club are working together to determine a new role for him within the organization. 

“Ben has been a fabric of the D.C. United organization for more than two decades, including his role as head coach for the last ten years, and we are forever grateful for his contributions and leadership,” said Jason Levien, Co-Chairman and CEO of D.C. United. “Over the course of his 22 years with the club, Ben has been a total professional and has represented this organization with incredible class and distinction. It is our sincere hope and belief that Ben will continue to have a big impact on the organization.” 

Olsen, who took over as head coach of D.C. United in 2010, has led the club to the playoffs in five of the last six seasons, in addition to guiding the club to their third Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in 2013. Prior to his coaching role for the club, Olsen spent 11 seasons playing for D.C. United, winning eight trophies, including two MLS Cups (1999 and 2004).  

“My overwhelming emotion right now is that I have been incredibly fortunate to be associated with this great club for 22 years. No one gets that opportunity in professional sports, and I am so much richer for all the amazing experiences and relationships along the way. I will always be grateful,” said Ben Olsen. “It is now time for a change. It is the right move. The club needs a new face and this is the right time for the club and also for me personally to move in a different direction. I spent the last 22 years waking up every morning thinking about how I could try to make this club better. I definitely didn’t get everything right, but I know I always gave everything I had to try to help this club achieve success. I want to thank everyone at the club, past and present, and all our fans for their support throughout this journey. I am very much looking forward to my next chapter and supporting the club I love.”

D.C. United will commence the search for a permanent head coach immediately and the club will provide further updates in due course.

D.C. United Club Statement
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D.C. United sign Venezuelan forward Gelmin Rivas

D.C. United have bolstered their frontline with the signing of Venezuelan forward Gelmin Rivas. He joins his fellow Venezuelan compatriot Junior Moreno at the club and will occupy an international slot. He was rumoured to have recently flown in to Washington D.C. and have been placed under quarantine due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Now this has been confirmed as a free transfer.

“We are excited to welcome Gelmin to the District,” Dave Kasper, D.C. United General Manager and VP of Soccer Operations, said. “Gelmin’s experience and goal scoring record in leagues across the world will add some important firepower and attacking depth to our roster. We’re looking forward to integrating him with the squad.”

Dave Kaspar, D.C. United General Manager and VP of Soccer Operations

Rivas had most recently been at Turkish side MKE Ankaragücü, however he only made 7 appearances, scoring once and making one assist. He has scored goals across the world and brings a wealth of experience from those times. Hopefully he will give something D.C. United have lacked recently.

Welcome to the Black & Red Gelmin.

Player: Gelmin Rivas
Position: Forward 
Birthplace: Cumaná, Venezuela
Country: Venezuela
Birthdate: 03/23/1989
Age: 31
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 190 lbs
Previous Club: MKE Ankaragücü (Turkey)
Status: International
Transaction: D.C. United signed forward Gelmin Rivas

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MLS is Back Back

Announcement has just been made that the 25th season of MLS is making it’s full return. The 1st six fixtures have been decided. Regular testing of the players, coaches and staff will also be a part of the return.

The 1st fixture for D.C. United will be a road game against FC Cincinnati on August 21st, 7:30pm ET/12:30am BST. We return to Audi Field (without fans I should add) for a match against New England Revolution on August 25th at 7pm ET/12am BST. The rest of the fixtures can be found here which includes two games against the Red Bulls.

Each club will play 18 additional regular season games in a phased approach, culminating with Decision Day on Sunday, Nov. 8. In an expansion of the postseason for 2020, 18 clubs will compete in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs — up from 14 teams last year. MLS Cup will be played on Dec. 12.

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D.C. United Sign Paul Arriola to Multi-Year Contract Extension

In news that had been rumoured last week, D.C. United have come out and confirmed that right winger Paul Arriola has signed a contract that will see him stay until the end of 2023 with an option of a years extension. Coming into what should be Paul’s golden years this is a great announcement and hopefully a signal of intent from the club to tie down the best players and show that the club means business. I’d hope there are more announcements coming as we get into the summer transfer window and after the early exit from the MLS is Back tournament.

D.C. United and midfielder Paul Arriola have agreed a multi-year contract extension, keeping the U.S. Men’s National Team player at the club through the 2023 season, with an option for the 2024 season. 
Arriola joined D.C. United from Liga MX side, Club Tijuana, on a permanent transfer in August 2017 as a Young Designated Player. Since joining D.C. United, Arriola has appeared in 68 Major League Soccer (MLS) games with 64 starts and tallied 14 goals and 10 assists in league play. In his three years for the Black-and-Red, the midfielder has made the MLS Team of the Week nine times and finished second on the team in goals in 2019 with six. 
“Paul has been an immense attacking player and fan favorite since he arrived at our club and we are thrilled to secure his long-term future,” said Dave Kasper, General Manager for D.C. United. “We know Paul will be back stronger than ever and we look forward to his return at Audi Field.”

D.C. United Club Statement
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D.C. United gains two new sponsors for MLS is Back tournament

Announced earlier today, D.C. United have gained two new sponsors that will be on show on the kits throughout the MLS is Back tournament. First up being Events DC, they will shown on the clubs shorts (which I wish were available for purchase). A long history between the club & Events DC means that this just seems right. RFK Stadium was owned and managed by Events DC and the organisation were the presenting sponsor for the clubs friendly against the French Ligue 1 club, Olympique Marseille.

“We are excited to continue our strategic partnership with D.C. United, especially with our recent announcement surrounding DC’s bid to host 2026 FIFA World Cup games,” said Gregory A. O’Dell, president and chief executive officer. “DC is a hotbed for soccer with a passionate fanbase and deep roots in soccer history. It is our hope through our continued partnership and collaboration with D.C. United, we continue to find innovative ways to showcase our city as a premier soccer market and inspire more international soccer matches and future visitors back to Washington, when the time is right.”

Gregory A. O’Dell, president and chief executive officer Events DC

The second sponsor will be Gainbridge. They will be featuring on the left sleeve of the jersey during this tournament. This sponsorship comes in the second year of the partnership between D.C. United and Group1001, which has seen Group1001 activate across multiple D.C. United and Audi Field platforms including improving conditions for the club’s coaching staff and players through the delivery of new bench seating on the touchline at Audi Field, as well as an active role in the community, assuming title sponsorship for the Black-and-Red’s annual Soccer & STEM platform.

“Group1001 has been committed to using their platform and sponsorship to help elevate our club and community from the very beginning of our partnership,” says Jason Levien, CEO of D.C. United. “We’re proud to wear the Gainbridge logo on our jersey sleeves as we seek to reclaim our reign in Orlando at the MLS is Back Tournament.”

Jason Levein, CEO D.C. United

MLS is Back tournament has already begun, and while two teams have withdrawn, D.C. United kick off this Sunday at 9am ET/2pm BST against Toronto FC.

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DCU vs Toronto postponed

After FC Dallas were withdrawn from the tournament, I had worries that that was only the beginning. Unfortunately, my worries rang true. Not only have we been postponed, but a number of other fixtures have been delayed also. Was it right to have this tournament? Or even have the games kick off now? I’m sure reflection will happen once all of this has been done.

So when do we play Toronto then? Thankfully it’s not a huge wait, just a couple of days. We kick off against Toronto on Sunday at 9am ET, which gives us a kick off of 2pm BST! I’m rather happy about this and means us Brits don’t have to have bleary eyes. Vamos United!

Major League Soccer today announced that the MLS is Back Tournament has rescheduled the Toronto FC vs. D.C. United match that was originally scheduled for July 10 to July 12 at 9 a.m. ET (ESPN2, TSN, TVA Sports) due to Toronto’s delayed arrival into Orlando.

D.C. United statement
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MLS IS BACK!

Well, not until July 8th, but now we have a firm date, we have what the tournament is going to look like. This is a great day and I’m very happy to see it back. All teams will be heading down to Orlando from June 24th, this gives them a couple of weeks to acclimatise to the conditions. 54 matches in total, 6 groups and a place in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League up for grabs. Clubs have been sending out the following.

Major League Soccer today announced the league’s plan to restart the 2020 season with all 26 MLS clubs competing in the MLS is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida beginning July 8. The tournament, which will be played without fans in attendance, provides a compelling way for MLS to resume its 25th season. Group stage matches will count in the MLS regular season standings and the tournament winner will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League. 
“We are pleased to team up with Disney to relaunch the 2020 MLS season and get back to playing soccer,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches and staff as we return to play. We also recognize that the death of George Floyd and others has focused our country on issues of racial injustice, inequality and violence against black men and women. Together with our owners, players and staff, the League and its Clubs are deeply committed to creating meaningful and impactful programs to address these issues that have plagued our society for far too long.”  
Major League Soccer has a longstanding relationship with ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The league held its 1998 preseason at the complex, and hosted events for the 1998 and 2019 MLS All-Star Games at the facilities.
“Sports have the power to unify and inspire, particularly during challenging times,” said Josh D’Amaro, chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “And we’re looking forward to bringing this exciting sport back to millions of fans, while prioritizing the health and well-being of the players, coaches and support staff as well as our cast members.” 


COMPETITION FORMAT
Clubs will begin arriving in Orlando as early as June 24 for preseason training. Clubs that can conduct full team training in their markets pursuant to the league’s medical and testing protocols must arrive no later than seven days before their first match. 
Similar to a FIFA World Cup format, the tournament will feature a continuous schedule of matches nearly every day, with games beginning at 9 a.m., 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. EDT. The vast majority of the matches will be played in the evening. Each team will play three group stage matches, and those results will count in the 2020 MLS regular season standings. After 16 consecutive days of group stage matches, the top two teams from each group along with the four best third-place finishers will move on to the knockout stage. The knockout stage will include a Round-of-16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and the Championship match will take place on August 11. Matches tied at the end of regulation in the knock-out phase will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout. Click HERE for the MLS is Back Tournament Competition Guidelines.
MLS worked with U.S. Soccer, Canada Soccer and Concacaf to institute a one-time change to MLS berths to the annual Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League. The MLS is Back Tournament winner will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, regardless of whether it is a U.S. or Canadian club. The winner would replace the berth previously awarded to the MLS regular season points leader in the conference opposite of the 2020 Supporters’ Shield winner.
In addition to matches that count in the regular season standings and the Champions League berth, players will have the opportunity to earn additional bonuses as part of a $1.1 million prize pool.
The substitution limit for the tournament will follow the new protocol set by the IFAB and allow five substitutions per match. In addition, teams may name up to 23 players on each official match day roster. Also, the Professional Referees Organization (PRO) will have access to video review for all games.
For the MLS is Back Tournament, the 26 MLS teams will be drawn into one of six groups during a live draw that will take place tomorrow, Thursday, June 11 at 3:30 p.m. EDT. For the remainder of the 2020 MLS season, Nashville SC will be moved to the Eastern Conference. The Eastern Conference will have three groups, one consisting of six teams and two consisting of four teams each. The Western Conference will have three groups, each consisting of four teams.
As the host club, Orlando City SC will be given the top seed in Group A, which will be the six-team group, and will play in the first match on July 8. The five remaining seeds will consist of the four semifinalists from the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs – Atlanta United, Los Angeles Football Club, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC – and Real Salt Lake (the team with the next highest points total in the Western Conference from the 2019 season). The seeded teams will be drawn into their respective groups first and then the remaining 20 clubs will be drawn and distributed across the conference-based groups.
In addition, the tournament schedule, national television partner networks, and other important details for the MLS is Back Tournament will be provided soon.
Upon completion of the MLS is Back Tournament, MLS plans to continue its regular season with a revised schedule in home markets, followed by the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and the 25th MLS Cup. The final number of matches and the schedule for the remainder of the 2020 MLS regular season will be announced in the coming weeks.
The MLS medical department and the league’s infectious disease experts have developed a comprehensive COVID-19 testing plan which will be implemented for the entire MLS is Back Tournament. An overview of health, safety and medical protocols can be found HERE. In addition, MLS will make a contribution of serology (antibody) tests to Central Florida residents beginning June 18.
KEY DATES
June 24: Teams begin arriving in Florida 
July 8:MLS is Back Tournament group stage begins
July 25-28: Round-of-16
July 30- Aug. 1: Quarterfinals
August 5-6: Semifinals
August 11:MLS is Back Tournament Final
MLS IS BACK TOURNAMENT – July 8 – August 11
Number of Matches:  54 (39 group; 15 knockout)
No. of matchdays:   26
Format: Group Stage, followed by Round-of-16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals & Championship match
Minimum Matches:   3 (per club)
Maximum Matches:  7 (per club)

Admit it, you’re a little bit excited by this. I know I am, July 8th cannot come soon enough!

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D.C. United To Begin Voluntary Small Group Training at Audi Field on June 4

After the MLS & MLSPA agreed upon a new CBA that will be seen through to 2025, the 2020 season can be resumed, and with that, training. Club statement below.

D.C. United will begin voluntary small group training at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, June 4. 
Major League Soccer announced on Thursday, May 28 that clubs may begin to use outdoor team training fields for small group training sessions in compliance with detailed health and safety protocols that were created in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts.  
D.C. United will implement the following plan approved by the league and local government officials, inclusive of detailed health and safety protocols based on consultations with local and national health professionals and adhere to the following guidelines:

Players will only have access to the field at Audi Field, as indoor facilities remain closed to all players with the exception of those requiring medical treatment or rehabilitation under the direction of club medical staff, that cannot be performed from the safety of their residences.

Audi Field can be divided into a maximum of two equal halves and a group of players will be assigned to each full or half field.  

Audi Field can be divided into up to six zones per half field, spaced at least 10 feet apart. Only one player may be in a zone at any given time in order to maintain physical distancing standards throughout the session. For clarity, a maximum of six players may be assigned to a single group with each player accommodated in a separate zone.

During training sessions, players may switch zones within their own group only if another player is not currently in that zone and players must maintain a physical distance of at least 10 feet from all other players and coaches while moving between zones.

Within a single group, players may pass the ball and shoot on goal; however, all training exercises must allow players to maintain a physical distance of at least 10 feet from one another.

Players may only train with the other players within their own group and may not interact with other groups. While the groups may not be rearranged during a single training session, clubs may rearrange the combination of players in each group from session to session.

Coaches and technical staff must wear a face mask at all times and may direct players from the perimeter of the field, never entering the field, while maintaining at least 10-feet of distance from other staff and players.

Only approved equipment may be used during the training session including balls; small and regular goals; rubber dots; small discs and cones; rebounders; rings; GPS Pods and personal equipment that is not shared between players. Mannequins, poles, bands, weights and ball machines may not be used.

Goalkeepers may not spit on their gloves and must clean, disinfect and sanitize their gloves after each training.

In addition to the health and safety protocols found above, D.C. United will continue to maintain the health and safety protocols implemented during the club’s voluntary individual workout session, hosted at Segra Field in Leesburg, VA, home of D.C. United’s United Soccer League (USL) affiliate, Loudoun United FC, on Friday, May 29, including:

Restricting training ground access to essential staff only, with specific staff listed in the plan.

Sanitization and disinfection plans for all training equipment and spaces, including disinfection of any equipment used by players (balls, cones, goals) between every session.

Completion of a Standard Screening questionnaire by each player prior to every arrival at the training site, and temperature checks upon arrival at the facility.

Staggered player and staff arrivals and departures, with designated parking spaces to maintain maximum distance between vehicles.

Player use of personal protective equipment from the parking lot to his designated position on the field, and again on return to the parking lot.

Staff use of the appropriate personal protective equipment throughout training, while also maintaining a minimum distance of 10 feet from players at all times.

Hand washing and disinfectant stations for required use before and after sessions.

An Emergency Action Plan for all COVID-19 related issues.

The league-wide moratorium on full team training remains in place through, and including, Monday, June 1.

The small group training protocol set by Major League Soccer prohibits media access to club training facilities, restricting access to players and essential staff only.

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D.C. United Begin Individual Workouts at Segra Field

News has come out that D.C. United will begin individual workouts at the clubs USL team Loudoun United’s stadium Segra Field. From what has been said this will be a watered down version of training and only essential staff will be on site. This begins as of tomorrow and while it is great to see some progress being made, it will still be a while before we get back to normality. Full club statement below.

D.C. United have announced that the club will begin voluntary individual outdoor workouts for players at Segra Field in Leesburg, Va, home of D.C. United’s United Soccer League (USL) affiliate Loudoun United FC, on Friday, May 29.
On Tuesday, May 26, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced that the state will move into phase one of easing pandemic-related shutdowns on Friday, May 29. Major League Soccer (MLS) had previously announced that players could begin to use outdoor team training fields for individual workouts beginning May 6.
D.C. United will implement detailed health and safety protocols based on consultations with local and national health professionals and adhere to the following guidelines previously announced by MLS for the workouts at Segra Field:

Restricting training facility access to essential staff only, with specific staff listed in the plan.

Sanitization and disinfection plans for all training equipment and spaces, including disinfection of any equipment used by players (balls, cones, goals) between every session.

Completion of a Standard Screening Assessment survey by each player prior to every arrival at the training site, and temperature checks upon arrival at the facility.

Staggered player and staff arrivals and departures, with designated parking spaces to maintain maximum distance between vehicles.

Player use of personal protective equipment from the parking lot to the field, and again on return to the parking lot.

Staff use of the appropriate personal protective equipment throughout training, while also maintaining a minimum distance of 10 feet from players at all times.

Hand washing and disinfectant stations for required use before and after individual workouts.

Segra Field will be divided into a maximum of four quadrants with only one player per quadrant allowed access at a time. There will be no equipment sharing or playing (passing, shooting, etc.) between players.

Individual training sessions will be limited to 60 minutes per player.

There will be no media access. D.C. United Communications will provide photos and video for media use following individual training sessions.
D.C. United are also continuing to work closely with the Mayor’s Office in Washington, D.C. on when the club may begin to use Audi Field along with RFK’s Training Fields for individual training opportunities.

DC United Club Statement