Curt Onalfo admitted when he took the LA Galaxy II job it was a big career risk. The risk paid off on Tuesday when he was officially announced as LA Galaxy head coach.
“Coaching the LA Galaxy II was the best thing I ever did because I took a risk,” Onalfo said on Tuesday at his introductory press conference. “I went from being an assistant with the first team so I could distinguish myself, but do something that would improve me.”
“Dating back to the beginning of this league, the LA Galaxy has always challenged what’s next,” Galaxy president Chris Klein said. “We’ve done this well with players. We’ve done this well with coaches. We’ve done this well with GMs. We are now challenging what’s next. We are now a full club. We have an academy we believe in.”
Onalfo’s road to the Galaxy job has been an extended one. Following an up-and-down playing career, Onalfo forged his path as an assistant for D.C. United and the U.S. Men’s National Team. In 2007, the Kansas City Wizards came calling. Onalfo lasted until August 2009 before being dismissed by the club, but a new gig with D.C. United came just several months later. Following a 3-12-3 start, Onalfo was dismissed again.
A year-and-a-half later, the Galaxy came calling, reuniting Onalfo with Bruce Arena. After several years under the new U.S. Men’s National Team boss, Onalfo took charge of Los Dos.
In his eyes, Onalfo has improved immensely as a coach since taking charge of the club-operated USL side. Los Dos made the playoffs in each of Onalfo’s three seasons in charge and they were USL runners-up in 2015.
The changing nature of the roster helped Onalfo become a better coach as he adjusted his tactics on the fly to fit his personnel.
Some of the players Onalfo coached at LA Galaxy II will eventually make their way into the first team as the club looks to benefit from its developmental system in future years under Onalfo and new general manager Peter Vagenas.
“I was going to find ways to succeed,” Onalfo said. “That means the tactics you employ have to be concise and that have to be such that your players understand them. In that process, we had clear ways we were playing offensively and clear ways to defend. It was an enormous challenge and it was difficult to win games.”
“We’re going to continue with our winning tradition,” Onalfo added. “We’re going to do it in style. We’re going to continue to bring along our assets, which are our young players throughout our club.”
The rights to one world-class star were acquired on Tuesday, as the Galaxy acquired the rights of Jermaine Jones from the Colorado Rapids. More stars are expected to join the Galaxy in the coming months to replace Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Landon Donovan.
As for Onalfo’s specific coaching style, he’s been influenced by Arena in many areas, but he’s also ready to create his own legacy in the coveted position.
“I’ve learned a lot from Bruce, but I have my own way and that’s okay,”Onalfo said. “I know I’m gonna hear about following in Bruce Arena’s footsteps a lot and I actually feel privileged to do that. We’re gonna continue with the excellence the Galaxy has always has. We’re gonna do it, but in a little different way.”
“Bruce is never shy about sharing his opinion,” Klein added. “He was very clear from the moment he accepted the U.S. Soccer job that Curt was the guy.”
Onalfo will have his own way of doing things, but one message was very clear from everyone on the dais on Tuesday.
“I’m somebody that’s come from within the system,” Onalfo said. “We’re going to continue to track world-class stars. We’re going to build the best possible team.”