WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Head coach Ben Olsen of the D.C. United looks on before a game against the Sporting Kansas City at RFK Stadium on March 10, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Major League Soccer is in middle of a recent wave of quick to head coaching duty post-playing career hires. Of the 13 former players that are now head coaches the following were hired during the Seattle Sounders era, most with little time coaching pro club soccer, even as assistants - Ben Olsen, Robert Warzycha, Jesse Marsch, Jay Heaps and Robin Fraser. While there may some validity to the idea that said coaches are too focused on winning at all costs, they are not the reasons for the MLS struggles in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Aron Winter comes from outside of MLS and using modern Dutch techniques. Sigi Schmid and staff started watching Santos Laguna game film as soon as they knew their opponent and prepared for months. Bruce Arena and Schellas Hyndman had decent CCL performances as well. Those are four of the six coaches that did not play in MLS. And, it isn't as if these coaches don't watch any Latin flavored soccer, it's just that they don't watch it the more than they do other leagues.
Still, with MLS unique roster construction rules and heavy travel there may be a benefit to coaches coming up through the league. Sigi said after Wednesday's practice that Ben Olsen's time as a player prepared him for a future around the game;
Based on his competitive nature, I knew that he’d be around the game somehow. I’m sure his coaching ascension has gone quicker than he expected it to go, now he’s got to make the best of it. As a player, he was a guy who learned different aspects of the game because of injuries, and I think that for sure helps him in his coaching because he had to learn so much as a player. That will help him make an even better coach as he moves forward.
As was said in three questions, Olsen's Army is built around his style, his experience and the success he had as a player. Fact is that it seems to be working. D.C. United is getting better under Olsen. If United qualify for the CCL would they struggle to beat Mexican sides? Certainly. But it wold be because the quality of the roster, not because the coach was a former MLS player that doesn't watch enough La Liga or FMF matches.