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Onalfo introduced as D.C. United head coach

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The Curt Onalfo era is officially underway in D.C., as United's newest coach was formally introduced at a press conference Tuesday.

For a club that is used to success, D.C. United has been humbled in recent seasons, failing to qualify for the postseason the last two campaigns. Tom Soehn's tenure ended at the hands of Onalfo's former club, the Kansas City Wizards on the last day of the 2009 season, and D.C.'s new coach will be able to concentrate on league play this year. Onalfo was clearly excited about his new job opportunity.

"D.C United is dear to my heart. I played for this club, I was an assistant coach here, and I started the youth development program," he said. "It's a big market, an important market, and I've prepared myself now ten years as a professional soccer coach for a place like D.C. United."

On many levels, Onalfo's selection makes sense — his ties to the area are strong, having spent several seasons as both coach and player. His ability to speak Spanish as well as English is another bright spot for a team with close ties to the Hispanic community.

"Being able to communicate with players in either language is crucial," Onalfo said. "It's something that's going to help us have success here with a team that had Latino players that have been instrumental to the club's success over many years."

His Latin ties aside, Onalfo will have to hit the ground running to help this team back to the playoffs. United's last two seasons were jam packed, as the club competed in the CONCACAF Champions League and made deep runs into the U.S. Open Cup.

They face an uphill battle trying to prepare a club that has some young, talented players, but also with several issues to address.

"I feel like there's a strong nucleus of players to have success," Onalfo said. "However, there's a lot of work that needs to be done and we believe that we can still add some depth to this time to continue to help us be successful."

High expectations are prolific in D.C. and anything short of qualifying for the playoffs will be looked at as a disappointment for Onalfo, even in his first season — something he is acutely aware of.

"Priority number one is to get this team back in the playoffs and also to get this team qualified to international tournaments that we're so well known for," he said in during his press conference. Onalfo did just that during his last stint with Kansas City, twice making the playoffs before getting the axe in 2009.

With a head coach now in place, United's attention turns to the draft, and bringing in reinforcements prior to the start of the 2010 season.

What do you think of Onalfo's chances in D.C.? Will he be a success in his first season, or will the team struggle?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Y’all are under the assumption that Onalfo is going to have a free hand. Kevin Payne and Dave Kasper tightly control DCU. They hired a coach that will not buck their decisions or be an independent voice. Emilo is gone (unless he accepts a really, really substantial hit on salary). With the success DCU had in the draft last year (Pontius and Wallace), I suspect Kasper has his targets already lined up and fixing upfront (speed!) is the main goal.

  2. One little comment about your punk @$$, Natasha Kai wanna-bee, chump, diver and you become the most predictable commenter in all of blogging history.

    Folks from the Pac NW are so sensitive. If anyone whispers anything but adulation for you d-bags y’all trip.

  3. SBI, you are down on United and it translates through your posts and recent articles on the WWL, and I’m a homer…

    On another note you are not down enough on Josh “insanity” Wicks…

  4. Due to our crappy season last year we will play in less tournaments. That means more time to concentrate on making the playoffs.

  5. christman was solid the prior year, only injuries made him invisible in 09 and thompson is a a goal scorer, what else can you ask for with his salary, if he can bring thompson here to DC (he is a local kid) maybe its enough to raise his game. Thompson has the tools but just needs to reach the next level.

  6. In the very competitive MLS, DC looked completely overmatch many times.

    I don’t think the coach is going to solve the problems.

    That being said, this isn’t the joke of the EPL, bottom of the standings to the top of the league can be done by adding a player or two, see LAG for the almost did it last year.

  7. I don’t think Onalfo is a bad coach, but I think his eye for talent acquisition is suspect. Going out and getting Cristman and Thompson gave them two fwds who do the same thing, which is nothing.

  8. The best hire D.C. United could have made. Now let’s see what New York and Chicago are going to do. I always thought that RBNY should have hired Onalfo as GM and Richie Williams as head coach. This is a good decision by DCU. Even if Onalfo wasn’t the first choice I strongly believe that he is the best fit.

  9. Certainly DCU is capable of being a playoff team. It’s also capable of being a team that misses the playoffs for the third straight year. I think Onalfo is a good coach and a good fit. I think there are a lot of good pieces in place. But a proven finisher needs to be in place–maybe Onalfo can get Emilio to play at his previous levels, maybe they add another player. He needs to get a GK the team can trust–Wicks maybe some outstanding plays but also was out of control–I’d prefer acquiring Cronin myself. The team needs a solid defense (which means team defending and fewer brain farts plus less bad luck). That’s certainly do-able. So while we could see a lot of turnover in personnel, that doesn’t have to happen. But what does have to happen is team organization and a coherent approach to play that brings out the best in players like Fred or Emilio or Pontius or Quaranta–guys who all had great games at times and at others had you going “are they even on the field?”. How much of that was the player and how much was the coach/lack of consistent or appropriate scheme–too soon to tell.

  10. Have to give him a chance, certainly a season or two. He has quite a job ahead of him. DCU has some great young talent to build from, but still has holes in many areas. Onalfo not only has to find the talent, but needs to figure out how to get the talent to blend as a team…and that will take time. With MLS being a “parity” league, its not unreasonable to expect a playoff spot this upcoming season. But expectations of as ‘return to the glory days’ are probably off target any time soon.

    Vamos United

  11. He’ll succeed. A few personnel moves and we’ll have a solid season.

    We need to bring in a couple defenders and midfielders, assuming Rodney Wallace moves back to the LB spot he held at Maryland while Castillo assumes the left mid spot. I’d like to go back to the traditional 4-4-2 with Clyde Simms in the holding midfield position. The loss of Jacobson hurts us a lot, but by adding a central defender and attacking midfielder we’ll be back on track.


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