Work in Sports
Olsen: 'We could bring home a medal'
Midfielder Ben Olsen is a key member of the U.S. men's Olympic soccer team. He left the University of Virginia early to turn pro and won the Major League Soccer rookie of the year award in 1998. Olsen was the MVP in D.C. United's MLS Cup win in 1999 and is now a regular member of the full U.S. national team.
CNNSI.com caught up with Olsen, 23, after a recent doubleheader at RFK Stadium.
1. What does it mean to you to be an Olympian?
It's a great honor. I don't even think I really know. I don't think you can really know tell it means to be an Olympian until you've been through it. It's a better question, maybe, for after I'm done. I think I'll have a better sense of it.
2. What do you see your role as being?
Hopefully to play. I've got to get my ankle 100 percent, and if that happens and Clive chooses me to play, my role is to do whatever he needs me to do. If I'm on the left, I'll play the left. If I'm on the right, in the middle. I think the lineup is certainly not set at this point; it's going to be interesting to see who's playing where and we've got a deep team. It's going to be fun.
3. What effect will the injuries to Adin Brown and Chris Armas have?
They're tough. Those players are great. It would have been nice to have them both, but the replacements -- Sasha will do fine -- and obviously Friedel is a big plus.
4. Will it be a disruption to replace the goalkeeper at this stage?
No. I don't think so at all. It's tough for Adin, because he was such big part of qualifying. He did so well. Our hearts are with Adin when we're there. That's how it works, I guess. It's a sh-tty part of the business, but that's how it works.
5. When coach Clive Charles announced his roster, he spoke a lot about the positive team spirit. Do you sense the same thing?
Yeah, it was there from the start. It's a good bunch of guys. Credit Clive for that. He picked some guys that work well together and have some fun on and off the field.
6. What will it take for the experience to be a success?
We've got to have some luck. We just have to play together, play well. I think if we play like we can, we should get out of the first round, and that's our initial goal and from there it's a crapshoot. Who knows? If we're playing well and the results fall -- who know? -- we could bring home a medal.
8. How do you think this U.S. Olympic team compares to the last one? Does it make a difference having more professionals because of MLS?
It's helped tremendously. We're professionals now. We're playing all year 'round. It's not where we were going to San Diego for a week and going home back to our high school teams and playing with our college teams where it's not so serious. We're going back and playing against good competition and getting games throughout the year, so it's huge. It's been a blessing.
8. How do you rate your group? How tough is it going to be to get out of the first round?
At the Olympics, it's like the World Cup -- everyone's good. You have to get there. So, everyone qualified to get there. Everyone's a good team. The Czechs are obviously a very, very good team. Cameroon is a good team, and Kuwait, I don't know much about them. I'm sure I'll learn more about 'em. It's a good group.
9. Anything about the Sydney experience you're especially looking forward to, aside from the soccer?
I don't know. I'm just looking forward to the Olympic -- the deal, the Olympic aura of the whole thing. It should be pretty neat.
10. Have you ever been to Australia before?
Keep an eye out for the toilets flushing backward.