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Curtin now second longest tenured active coach in MLS after Ben Olsen dismissal

The Philadelphia Union head coach lavishes praise on Olsen, says DC United should erect a statue of him

Carl Gulbish

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin has nothing but high praise for his now former coaching colleague Ben Olsen after his dismissal this week as head coach of DC United.

Now the second longest tenured active coach behind Delran, N.J. native Peter Vermes, Curtin said “I don’t matter in this” on Friday when asked about his moving up that list.

“For me, this could be the longest answer I give,” Curtin said in a press conference over Zoom.

Curtin said he remembers watching Olsen play for FC Delco when he was 14.

“I looked up to Ben at that moment,” Curtin said. “I learned a ton from Ben, as a coach, we did our pro license together, we’ve grown as friends over the years. There’s no better person first and foremost, there’s no better leader.”

Curtin went so far as to say that DC United should erect a statue outside their stadium for the Middletown, Pa. native who has been part of the club either as a player or coach for 23 of their 25 seasons.

“I say this with all sincerity, I’m not saying it as a joke,” Curtin said. “There should be a statue built up outside of the stadium. And you can’t really say that for a league that is so young, you know, to be at a club for 22 years and be kind of the the face of it for so long. (Coaches) go through a lot of things on and off the field and stress that people will maybe never understand or feel unless you’re in this position. And I have nothing but admiration and respect for everything that Ben stood for.”

Assistant coach Chad Ashton will be the interim manager for DC United when the Union travel to the Audi Field on Wednesday. It will be the first time since the Union’s inaugural game that they’ll be playing a team not coached by Olsen. Curtin had an overall W-L-D record of 11-5-1 against Olsen, which includes a win and a loss in Open Cup play to Olsen.

There’s talk that Olsen will continue on with the organization in some capacity but it’s not clear yet what that might look like.