By NICHOLAS MURRAY – firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, January 11, 2016
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The sting of defeat in the 2015 USL Championship still remains, but for LA Galaxy II Coach Curt Onalfo time has healed the wounds of his side’s overtime defeat somewhat.
“It was brutal. You put so much time and effort into something, and being so close to having it, having it taken from you at the last minute it was certainly devastating, but we’ve moved on from it,” Onalfo said at the MLS Combine this weekend. “We’re bigger and better for it, and it’s going to be motivation for us to be even better this season.”
When the Galaxy II became the first USL club to be owned and operated by an MLS club in 2014, they gained a major spotlight in the developing relationship between the two leagues. With two playoff berths in two seasons, and the addition of a trio of players to the Galaxy’s MLS roster, the club has proven a quick success.
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“It’s been great so far,” said Galaxy Technical Director Jovan Kirovski. “It’s something that we’d planned, but we didn’t expect it to go along as smoothly as it has been, but we’re trying to improve every year, not only on the field, but also progressing our youngsters through off the field as well in their development process. It’s been going great, and hopefully next year we win it. On the field, we’ve got to the semis, we’ve got to the final and hopefully we win it next year.”
The emphasis on not only winning, but winning while playing attacking, attractive soccer has been key for the Galaxy II over the past two seasons. The Galaxy II’s run on the road this past playoff season that saw them earn the Western Conference Championship saw numerous players step up to the challenge, and put in the sort of pressure performances that can translate should the call to the Galaxy’s MLS side come.
“Of course, that’s part of our culture, and that’s what we want to be teaching our kids, not only on the field about tactics and what they’re trying to do, but also winning and feeling that pressure, because that’s what they’re going to see in the first team,” Kirovski said. “It definitely is about winning, but it’s also how we do it. We do it in the right way.”
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The club is now working to provide the types of atmosphere the Galaxy II regularly saw on the road last season to its home contests. As awareness of Los Dos continues to grow, Kirovski said the club will be looking to attract higher attendance at their home games, to provide an atmosphere that matches the intensity the side shows on the field.
“That part of it we definitely can improve, and we’re trying to do that,” Kirovski said. “We’re trying to get more people out to the games, because that’s important. It’s vital for our young kids to play in front of a decent crowd, play in front of that pressure, and this year we’re really focusing more on that side of it, because we definitely need to improve it.”
On the field, the Galaxy II are looking to continue their upward momentum. The club continued to train well into the offseason, and played a number of exhibitions, including one against USL rival Sacramento Republic FC, that helped the squad’s younger members get more minutes. Onalfo said he’s hoping to see a big step forward this year from players who will return to the side for their second seasons, with the goal of seeing more players emulate Dave Romney, Daniel Steres and Clement Diop in 2016.“I take enormous pride in it,” Onalfo said. “I’ve taken it very seriously, our club has taken it very seriously, and it’s rewarding to see some of the fruits of the labor in players that are now translating to the first team.”