United gets Onalfo. Finally.

In the end, United goes with one of the two “conventional wisdom” picks in hiring former KC coach Curt Onalfo. It’s not a pick that makes you go “wow” or even “ooh,” but it’ll do. United couldn’t really afford to drag this out too much longer. I suspect no one wanted to show up to draft day with one eye on who United is picking and another on who United was going to hire.

Of course the process, more of a journey really, made one ask even more questions of DC United’s front office competence. In the end, I am happy that we at least got Onalfo. Is he a bit of a re-tread? I guess so. But he’s our retread, dammit. Yeah, I guess that’s the best thing I can say of the deal.

There are some real things to like about Onalfo though. One that immediately comes to mind is that he is fluent in Spanish. That’s a bit more useful in MLS than Soehn’s knowledge of German.

I guess the worst case scenario is that Caleb Porter goes on to later lead Toronto or Seattle (I had originially penned the Galaxy here, but Sounders fans are so much more obnoxious.) In that case, United will look ineffective for not being able to tie up a great coach and I go down as a blowhard of Ron Burgundian-proportions.

If not for my continuing doubts that the season will start on time, I’d be really excited to see what DC does with its draft picks and cap space likely to come with the reduction of cap hits (either through retirement, release or restructure) of Emilio, Fred, Gomez, Olsen, and Moreno.

I should also add that I really like the Cristian Castillo signing. I think he’s a quality player who will really enjoy playing in DC, home to the country’s largest Salvadorean community. It’s good too that United has Salvadorean of some note on the team. If United is truly going to “represent” soccer in the DC area, the club should have a Salvadorean or two. It’s not that the club must have Salvadoreans or should retain a quota, it’s just better that United does have a Salvadorean, and especially an international. Will his signing help United at the gate? Absolutely.


19 thoughts on “United gets Onalfo. Finally.

  1. Didn’t you hate Porter because his team hadn’t played anyone and he just wasn’t good enough to lead DCU? If so, you should be glad should he take over LA or TFC or Seattle.

    Color me confused.

    Unless this was all a big joke that I missed.

  2. To clarify again, because (and this sometimes happens) this clearly makes more sense in my brain than it does in other folks’.

    Okay, there were two different points I have made about Caleb Porter and DC United. You can agree with one, both or neither. They aren’t all that connected to one another.

    Point 1. I feel like Caleb Porter isn’t yet qualified enough to coach DC United and that he would’ve have been a bad signing.

    Point 2. The fact that Porter actually rejected United in favor of staying at Akron indicates that either DC didn’t do its homework, was being jobbed by Porter’s agent, couldn’t match a MAC school’s salary offer or are considered by professionals a disfunctional organization and one not to be touched by a 10 foot poll. (Not a point we’ve reached yet, but it remains a possibility) That a college coach, and especially a young one, rejected the club represents a black eye for United.

  3. Heres hoping that DC United learns from there past mistakes and hire ADDITIONAL security for 2010 season. My coworkers were just starting to feel safe in RFK.

    I like Castillo. I think he’s one of the pure talents of CONCACAF. DC definately needs him more then we need him.

    Onalfo… Errr. I would have been more excited with the dude that rejected United. Onalfo isn’t bad, nor great. I just hope he can motivate.

  4. Have we seen a figure attached to that? My guess is that he restructured for a smaller cap hit but I haven’t seen that for sure.

  5. You nevertheless are stuck with Onalfo as coach who did a bang up job in KC. At least if DC got Porter and it didn’t pan out, his lack of MLS experience and youth could have been blamed. If Onalfo flops, United is left with two black eyes.

  6. Now that I think about it, the Mexican 2nd division is an alright place to comb for players. Some of those teams are probably only down there due to the way their system of promotion and relegation works.

  7. If DCU cannot succeed next year, then I don’t know what to think. We have a fresh new face at the helm, a perfectly manageable schedule with only USOC and league play, and tons of young talent returning. Let’s take a look:

    Keepers: Wicks (?), Hamid, Kocic, maybe Cronin
    Defenders: James, Jakovic, Namoff, Vaughn, Burch
    Midfielders: Simms, Pontius, Wallace, Quaranta, McTavish, Barklage, Szetela, maybe Gomez
    Forwards: Jaime, Boyzzz, maybe Shipalane

    I doubt we’ll keep Emilio or Fred, but the FO has shocked me in the past.

    Plus we just got Castillo on loan and possibly for keeps, and we have the draft coming up. We definitely need a new LB; Burch just isn’t cutting it. He’s a very solid backup, but not a starter. We also need to sign a PROVEN striker. Pontius was great last year, but his lack of experience let us down sometimes. We need a true striker with a nose for goal, like Jaime.

    I think, with everyone healthy, we should be able to boast a lineup like this:

    Wicks/Cronin (preferably Cronin, but I think he wants to stay in Portland)
    Namoff-Jakovic-James-New LB

    I’m not sure where Castillo plays (I believe he’s a left winger?), and he’s also completely untested, so I left him out for now. Plus I doubt a player as talented as Szetela will be left in the doghouse under a new regime, so we should expect Danny to get much more playing time next season. Gomez and Jaime are aging, but they bring veteran qualities and are very useful in cameo appearances. Maybe we should start one, then sub the other one in and rotate throughout the season (for example, Jaime starts, Gomez comes in in the 65th or so, and Quaranta moves up top with Pontius. Or Gomez starts, Jaime comes in around the 60th, and Quaranta moves back to midfield).

    I think we’re all being a little too pessimistic about this Onalfo hiring. After all, he was pretty successful for two years at KC with a roster that I don’t believe is as talented as us. He should be able to turn this team around. We’ll certainly miss Benny Olsen, but maybe he’ll return in a coaching capacity.

    I’m excited for next year already! I hope we go into KC on the 27th and just rip apart Kurt’s old team.

  8. Think that the problem must go up higher than the coach, because at that point it would mean one of two things:

    1) The FO is consistently not giving its coaches enough tools to work with, or
    2) The FO is consistently not hiring good enough coaches

    I’m not throwing myself off a bridge about it, as I too think that talent matters more than the difference between most MLS coaches. I just wonder, ‘what was the point of all this? You hired a guy whose accomplishments look a lot like the one you just fired.’ (I might agree that our roster looks better than KC’s on paper, but in terms of the guys who could actually play on any given Saturday, and how pain-free they actually were, I don’t think I would.)

  9. OK, so then why call him a great coach? You’ve taken great pains to stress that DCU is no longer an elite team (I agree) but then why would he be sought by TFC, Seattle, etc.? You can’t have it both ways. Either he’s a good enough coach for those other teams (and thus good enough for us) or is not good enough for us (and thus not good enough for them.)

    Hear of Occam’s Razor? Maybe he just liked his setup at Akron and didn’t want to leave, especially after they sweetened the pot.

    I think you’re looking for the reason that’s most damning to DCU.

  10. Could be, but if Porter just wanted to stay all along, that still doesn’t dismiss the possibilities that DCU didn’t do their homework and/or were jobbed by his agent. In fact it makes those possibilities a little more likely, I’d say, since it essentially means we let ourselves get used for the new Akron contract he wanted all along. We come off like the girl he took out only to make his GF jealous.

  11. I was thinking of the scene in season 3 of The Office where Josh Porter leverages his newfound manager duties at Dunder Mifflin into an executive position at Staples.

  12. He’s a better signing than going back to Soehn because no one else wanted the job.

    I don’t really care who coaches United. I think our troubles over the last few years were partly blamed on having to rely on inexperienced young players because the ones that were too old and decrepit to play 30+ games couldn’t do it. Now, we’ve got younger more experienced players and some of our older players are retiring. That, combined with fewer games, should help to balance out our performance.

  13. Haven’t you ever considered a job opportunity only to realize that you’re happy with what you have? Not everything happens because someone is scheming or incompetent. But of course, those are the default assumption on BS.

  14. Know the guy you’re chasing.

    He’s 34, younger than some of the players. He has only token pro playing experience. He’s taken a role in trying to get a better stadium built for the Zips. He’s building a program, but hasn’t gotten it to the point where (like a Maryland) it could be expected to remain strong without him. He’s never voiced ambitions towards pro coaching.

    You want the guy you’re chasing to want you about as much as you want him. You don’t want a guy you have to give the hard sell to talk him into it. To figure this out, know the guy you’re chasing.

    And it’s not like it’s only one guy:

  15. That’s a fair point to me. Talent usually trumps coaching, I think, for all but the very best and worst coaches. If we get the talent, I’ll still be optimistic about the season.

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