CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy head coach Curt Onalfo and captain Jelle Van Damme stressed the need to move forward after the defender’s first-half substitution during the Galaxy’s 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire last Saturday.
With Chicago ahead by a pair of goals in the 33rd minute, Onalfo pulled Van Damme in favor of central defender Dave Romney. The Galaxy rallied in the second half, scoring twice to earn a point against the Fire on Saturday.
Van Damme told reporters on Tuesday that the move to replace him was a surprise, but he admitted that he made “two bad choices” on Chicago’s opening two goals.
“Of course, I was disappointed, but for me, I made two bad choices and we ended up with two goals. That’s it,” Van Damme said. “Those kinds of things happen in a game. He made the decision to sub me after 30 minutes.
“For me, it’s just that I had a bad game and I accept that. Halftime, I came into the dressing room and apologized to the guys for the two goals, as I should. The only thing I was disappointed with was that he subbed me. That’s my opinion and I stick by it. That’s the coach’s call.”
Onalfo stated that Van Damme’s status will be decided “day by day” and stressed that his decision to substitute his captain was a “decision that [he] made on the night.” However, the Galaxy’s head coach was quick to note that the message was received “loud and clear” that the team remains above any one player.
“There is no one bigger than this organization and it’s our job to be ready from minute one and it’s my job as the leader of the team and coach of the team to make sure that we’re are,” Onalfo said.
As for how Van Damme will react ahead of this weekend’s trip to face New York Red Bulls, the central defender says it’s time to move on.
“I just have to keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t have to change stuff, that stuff happens in soccer. I had a bad game. Life goes on,” Van Damme said. “There are worse things in life that happen than playing a bad game. I had a bad game. I’m over it. I made a few bad choices. I had my thoughts on it but that’s fine.”