SANDY, Utah – Curt Onalfo bagged his first win as head coach of the LA Galaxy in an exciting 2-1 victory over a 10-men Real Salt Lake squad on Saturday.
After two strong performances against FC Dallas and Portland Timbers, but no points to show for it, Onalfo was overjoyed by his team’s ability to give him the first win of his tenure.
“This win means a lot. I’ve worked my whole life for this job,” Onalfo said after the game. “I want to win and be successful, and we’re going to be. It’s good to get the first win under my belt and the first of many, many more.”
The match got off to a rocky start for the Galaxy after Yura Movsisyan put the hosts up after 11 minutes with a stellar finish past goalkeeper Clement Diop. Salt Lake seemed to have the edge until the 44th minute when Kyle Beckerman was sent off after accruing his second yellow card following a challenge from behind on Sebastian Lletget.
Before the start of the final half, Onalfo implored his group to press and exploit the man advantage, and after injecting Nathan Smith and Jack McBean in the 58th minute, the game began to open for Los Angeles. Dave Romney scored his first goal of his Major League Soccer career in the 69th minute off a Romain Alessandrini pass, and then less than 10 minutes later the Frenchman set up Ema Boateng for his fifth career goal against Salt Lake.
“It took strength of character to get back in it. I thought we showed grit and we pressed and did an excellent job of exploiting the extra player,” Onalfo said afterward. “Credit to the guys for the great effort and more importantly, being intelligent about how we played tactically and got the point.”
Smith, who spent time with Onalfo during his tenure as the head coach of LA Galaxy II admitted that it was special for the team to rally behind their manager and give him his first win.
“It’s a big win for him and us,” Smith told LA Galaxy Insider afterward. “It’s his first win of the season, and that’s big. Curt has been saying that we’ve been playing well and we were just unfortunate in the first two games. We’re just coming out and playing our game.”
His first win secured, Onalfo can turn his attention to the two-week international break before the team faces off with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on April 1.
Although the work for that match starts in earnest next week, Onalfo couldn’t help but savor the triumph.
“It feels good. We believe in what we’re doing,” Onalfo said. “It’s only going to get better. It takes a long time for a team to become a team and gel. Patience is a virtue. We’re going to stick to our process, and we’re only going to get better.”