CARSON, Calif. -- The Under-16 Academy level is admittedly one of transition as players look to blossom from skilled children into prospective professional.
One of the LA Galaxy U-16's finest young talents is defender Christian Onalfo, the son of assistant coach Curt Onalfo. The birth of Christian was something of a miracle for the elder Onalfo, who battled cancer in his twenties undergoing chemotherapy that caused him to initially fear if he would ever have children. But when Christian was born on July 26, 1997, the eldest Onalfo couldn't conceal his joy, exclaiming "he's perfect" as he held his son for the first time.
On the soccer field, Christian is a talented center back, whose physical size makes him an intriguing prospect to U-16 head coach Craig Harrington.
"Physically, he's got the body, he's got to mature because it's his first year playing at the [U-16] level, but he's got a lot of plus sides," Harrington said after the Galaxy U-16s fell to Chivas USA's U-16's last Sunday. "Obviously, with his dad being around, he knows what it takes. He's going to have a lot of growing up this year, but as he gets into his body because he's a big strong lad and grows [on the field] by playing at this tempo all the time, he should be a rock for us in the back by next year."
Harrington isn't the only one that believes in Onalfo's skills as his father Curt is pleased with how is son has developed.
“It’s very satisfying, as a parent, you always want the best for your kid. He’s an extremely bright kid and he’s shown that he has a passion for soccer," said Onalfo. "He’s grown up around professional players and teams, that has bled off on him a little bit. It’s not easy being the son of a coach because you get the microscope on you a little bit. But he’s an extremely bright young man and he’s turning into a really good soccer player, but whatever success that he has in it, I’ll be proud of him.”
As he continues his development, the youngest Onalfo admits being the son of a coach has been vital for his development.
"It's been a great experience. I look at the defenders and see what they do so that I can try to do it and improve," said Onalfo. "He taught me a lot of stuff and always helps me. He always tells me what I need to improve on so it's a great experience."