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Americans Abroad

Olsen's loan to England has been successful for all parties. Is transfer next?

By Willie Calderon
Special to SoccerTimes

LONDON (Friday, December 8, 2000) -- American midfielder Ben Olsen has had more success on his short trial with Nottingham Forest than anyone could imagine.

Ben Olsen
Midfielder Ben Olsen has thoroughly enjoyed his short stay with Nottingham Forest and plans a longer stay in Europe a some time.
Club management has been so happy with his performance, which included scoring two goals, that it asked Major League Soccer and D.C. United to extend his stay from March -- with Olsen playing for D.C. United in the CONCACAF Champions Cup in January -- until Englandís first division ends in May. The request was turned down, but MLS and Forest have continued negotiations for a full-time transfer. MLSís reported asking price is $2 million.

The Nottingham Forest Supporters Club even named Olsen its "Player of the Month" for November.

SoccerTimes: Thanks for taking time out for the interview. I heard you picked up an injury at practice (last) Friday.

Olsen: Yeah, my body held out for a little bit here but sometimes it's tough because the ground is so wet all the time and it's very heavy. My body's not used to the soft ground every day. American fields tend to be a lot harder. I had some muscles fatigued in my hamstring, and I slightly strained it. When it actually happened, I don't know. The healing process should hopefully be just a couple more days.

SoccerTimes: Did you get the (test) results back yet?

Olsen: We got the results, but the doctor hasn't looked at it and given his satisfaction on it.

SoccerTimes: Have you been doing any light practice?

Olsen: No, I haven't been running at all. Just treatment and an upper body work out.

SoccerTimes: How are you enjoying your time at Forest?

Olsen: It's good. I'm enjoying it quite a bit. It's a great experience. It's a great opportunity for me. I'm playing with a good team, but more importantly, just to check out England, check out the European game, to see if this is something I enjoy and might just strive to do.

SoccerTimes: Over the past month, Forest has gone through a resurgence, having won seven of eight games.

Olsen: Yeah, we done pretty well. In the games that I've played in we're like 7-2.

SoccerTimes: Yes, you've also scored twice during that time.

Olsen: Yeah, so things have been good, I'm playing pretty well. I'm contributing and the mood in camp is great.

SoccerTimes: How do you rate the quality of the English first division?

Olsen: It's a different style of game. It's like a battle or war out there. The atmosphere is untouchable. I've never experienced anything like it. The game is not possession-oriented, it's more attack and, you know, playing forward and attacking at all times. It's a fun style. It suits me, I think. The pace is a bit wild at times.

SoccerTimes: Everybody makes such a big deal about the pace of the English game. Do you find it a lot faster than MLS? You haven't played any Premier League clubs yet.

Olsen: Well, I hear it's actually faster than the Premier League just because the Premier League is a little more possession-oriented, I suppose. I guess they knock it around a little bit more than Division One, I think. Here they tend to launch the ball up a bit. But fortunately everyone on our team likes to play as well, and we have a combination of both and I think that is why we're successful.

SoccerTimes: Do you keep in touch with any former MLS players like teammate Stern John?

Olsen: First of all, Stern has been fantastic here. He's really taking me under his wing and shown me around. That made it all that much easier to have someone I knew and we hit it off real well. He's just been fantastic. You know, I talk to the guys at home, the D.C. United guys, every now and then. I call Chris Albright, Antonio Otero and the boys back there just to check in with what's going on. They keep me informed.

SoccerTimes: The news at home is that a transfer is being negotiated between MLS and Nottingham Forest. Can you comment on that?

Olsen: Well, yeah, I can comment on that as far saying that I don't know the negotiations. I mean, I'm out of it and it's up to MLS and Forest to decide if and when it can happen. And, in the end, if it does, if things go through and both parties agree, then it puts the ball in my court and then I have to decide if it's something I want to do. Right now I think, well, I don't want to say I want to do it. But at this point I'm enjoying my stay and playing here in this league. If not now, then eventually I'm going to need to be in Europe if I want to be the player I want to be.

SoccerTimes: Will you be playing for D.C. United in the Champions Cup in January?

Olsen: I hope so. I think that's part of the deal as well. I think that D.C. and the league hopefully want me to play in it. I certainly would like to do that. You know, even if you get to it play, it's a great tournament, it's a great championship. It's also a great change for the U.S, to get to the World Club Championships.

SoccerTimes: Especially if you got to Real Madrid or Corinthians.

Olsen: Yeah, it would be wild. It would be something we have the opportunity to do this year. We had a tough season obviously. It's a new year and anything can happen. All you have to do is make it to the final to get there.

SoccerTimes: Have you been keeping up to date with the World Cup qualifiers, that is, like the match against Barbados when (U.S. coach) Bruce Arena used a different squad than he normally does?

Olsen: Yeah, it worked out. I don't know if I want to speak for Bruce Arena, but I'm sure he had a good reason for all that. The guys did great. They came through when they had to and are focused on doing the same for the next round. It's going to be tough. It's going to be tough to be part of that squad. There are so many players that are up and coming. It's going to be a good challenge for myself to get do the best I can for January and February

SoccerTimes: Thanks for taking the time out for the interview. Good luck on the rest of your time here!

Willy Calderon, an American living in Bristol, England, writes about soccer for various publications and netzines and can be contacted at willy@netcity.co.uk.

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