Onalfo: A Comfortable Choice

Curt Onalfo was announced as the new head coach of the LA Galaxy this afternoon. With the recent exit of staple DPs Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and the second departure of Landon Donovan, this would have been the perfect opportunity to make changes instead of continuing with more of the same.

Wholesale changes are being made in LA this offseason with plenty of big names heading out the door. Arena is leaving to coach the USMNT for a second time, Sarachan has abandoned ship, Peter Vagenas has been brought in as GM,  and the list of players that are leaving closely resembles the faces on most of the team’s marketing over the last few seasons. This many moves would be a perfect opportunity to shake things up and allow the team to return to its flashier (and more successful) ways, especially since the newcomer would be able to walk into a team and mold it exactly how he or she would want it to be without the core that previous teams relied on.

Bringing in Onalfo makes sense financially for the Galaxy, but it’s not the flashy move that the fans had become accustomed to since the Beckham era. An internal promotion is probably (read: definitely) cheaper than trying to lure a new coach into the mix, and staying comfortable within the Bruce Arena school of thought is just that: comfortable. Onalfo most recently worked as the head coach of the LA Galaxy II and the assistant coach to Bruce Arena with the LA Galaxy first team, but this wasn’t his first time working with Arena. Their long history dates back to Onalfo playing for Arena at the University of Virginia, and then becoming his assistant coach with him for the US National Team several years later. Onalfo most certainly learned Arena’s style, and helped pass that style on to the players in the Galaxy’s youth system.

Although Onalfo’s prior head coaching efforts were less than stellar (30-41-25 combining his time with the Kansas City Wizards and DC United), the extra time he spent with one of the best in the business allowed him time to absorb some of the winning knowledge that Arena possesses. Onalfo also brings with him a thorough knowledge of the Galaxy’s youth development system, giving him insight into the talent coming through the pipeline in the near future. His experience with the club’s youth might actually come in handy with the hints of a cost-reducing plan the team has discussed so far this offseason.

While this is not a fun or exciting choice, mostly because the thought of LA continuing to play bunker ball is not the most compelling draw for most LA fans, it’s one that makes sense both financially and ideologically for the team. This pick proves that management is focusing more on stability and the bottom line rather than on the big (expensive, aging) signings from recent history.

If there’s one thing we can all agree on in the naming of LA’s new head coach, it’s that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing that Cozmo gets to have someone to take him Christmas tree shopping this year.