CARSON, Calif. -- The last time Curt Onalfo coached an MLS team, he didn't last out his first year.
The LA Galaxy's new head coach doesn't gloss over that disappointing 2010 season with DC United, though, or the fact that his stint with the then-Kansas City Wizards ended midway through the 2009 season (though he did lead them to the playoffs in his first two years there).
That said, he's not dwelling on the past either.
“I look at those prior experiences as platforms for me to get better," Onalfo said on Tuesday, after being named to succeed Bruce Arena as the Galaxy's head coach. "I’m a self-reflective guy, I’m always trying to get better and I’m always trying to evolve.
“I’m here for a reason. I’m not a person who looks back a lot; I’m always in the now and looking forward.”
The 47-year-old Onalfo was promoted to succeed Arena, who stepped down last month to take over the US national team for a second time, after leading USL side LA Galaxy II to a 41-20-25 record over three seasons.
For Onalfo, it’s not simply taking what he’s learned from the past and applying it to the job he finds himself in now; he also gets to step into the shoes of one of US soccer’s biggest personalities.Not only is Arena a presence that will hang over the Galaxy for some time, but he also was Onalfo’s mentor, hiring him as an assistant coach in 2011.
“I had a conversation with Bruce prior to coming here,” Onalfo said during his introductory news conference, “and I wanted to get into a situation where I could just get better at my trade -- become better tactically, understand every aspect of the game better.
“I’ve learned a lot from Bruce, but I have my own way. I think if you were to talk to Bruce, he’d say I’m the guy to take over after him.”
What remains to be seen is whether this signing signals a sea change or a continuation. Certainly Onalfo brings a bit of both, but there’s also a suggestion that his experience with the lower-division side means an emphasis being placed on player development. In the Galaxy’s first announced move of the offseason, they acquired the rights to former first-round MLSSuperDraft pick Miguel Aguilar, who made 14 starts in USL last year, from DC United.
Then again, on Tuesday the Galaxy announced that they had acquired the rights to veteran midfielder Jermaine Jones in a trade with Colorado -- though Jones, being out of contract, still has to sign a new deal to make the move official.
“The first thing that Curt brings is a belief in what we are doing, a belief in how we’re building through the core of our development system," Galaxy president Chis Klein said, "adding into that the backing that we have to be able to go out and to sign big players. He also has a knowledge. He’s been here.
“Ultimately, that’s what set him apart from the other people that we talked to.”