D.C. United names Curt Onalfo head coach

Washington, DC (December 28, 2009) – D.C. United today named Curt Onalfo as the team’s head coach. The 40-year old Onalfo becomes the sixth head coach in club history. He has long-standing ties to United, having previously served the team as a player, director of youth development, and assistant coach.

"This has been a lengthy process but at the end of it we believe Curt Onalfo will be an outstanding leader for D.C. United,” said United President and CEO Kevin Payne. “Our first priority was to find someone who shares the club's long-standing philosophy of attacking soccer – and Curt absolutely does. Having played and coached here, Curt understands the culture of D.C. United. As a former member of our 1998 and 1999 championship-winning teams, he understands what is necessary today to fulfill the D.C. United legacy and meet the lofty expectations that follow our club.  His fluency in Spanish, familiarity with our community, and understanding of our league are additional factors that make him the ideal choice to lead our team and I am excited to welcome him home. We look forward to getting to work in bringing the MLS Cup back to D.C."

Onalfo will be officially introduced at a press conference at RFK Stadium’s VW Lounge on Tuesday, January 5. The exact time of the press conference will be announced later in the week.

“We are excited to welcome Curt back to D.C. United,” said United General Manager Dave Kasper. “His experience as an assistant coach for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the World Cup level, his time as an MLS head coach, combined with the years he spent as a player and coach at D.C. United, make him the perfect fit to lead our club. We are confident Curt will foster a daily environment in our locker room that will begin a new chapter of success.”

“I am very excited to lead D.C. United into a new era, building on its storied and successful history,” said Onalfo. “Having already played and served as an assistant coach for the most successful club in MLS history, I understand the expectations that come along with this position. It takes more to be the head coach of United and I fully intend to help bring D.C. its fifth MLS Cup.”

Onalfo was most recently the head coach of the Kansas City Wizards. When he was hired prior to the 2007 MLS season, he took over a Wizards team that had not made the post-season in the team’s prior two campaigns (2005 and 2006). In his first season as the team’s skipper, he not only led Kansas City back to the post-season, but into the Eastern Conference Final. Onalfo then guided the team into the MLS Cup playoffs for a second consecutive year in 2008. During his two and a half seasons in Kansas City, Onalfo had a career record of 27-29-22, making the playoffs each of the full seasons he served as the team’s head coach.

Prior to his time in Kansas City, Onalfo spent four years (2003-06) as Bruce Arena’s assistant coach on the U.S. Men’s National Team. During his time with the U.S., the national team put together a record of 38-12-14 in all competitions. While at his post, the team was a semifinalist at the 2003 Gold Cup, and finished atop CONCACAF in 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification. Onalfo was with the team throughout the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, which included former United midfielder Ben Olsen as a member. He also served as an assistant to head coach Glenn ‘Mooch’ Myernick during Olympic qualifying for 2004 Athens.

From 1998-2002, Onalfo was a member of D.C. United, first as a player (1998-99) and then as an Assistant Coach and Director of Youth Development (2000-02). He first joined the team in 1998 under Bruce Arena and then played the 1999 season under Thomas Rongen. While with the team, he captured four trophies – the 1998 CONCACAF Champions Cup, 1998 InterAmerican Cup, 1999 Supporters’ Shield and 1999 MLS Cup.  After retiring at the end of the ’99 season, he joined Rongen’s staff as an assistant coach for the 2000 campaign. In 2001, Rongen and Onalfo together launched United’s youth academy program. Under Onalfo’s guidance, the club’s U-15 side won a national championship in its very first year of competition. In 2002, when Ray Hudson was hired as the team’s new head coach, Onalfo stayed on as an assistant for the duration of the campaign. 

Onalfo began his MLS playing career during the League’s inaugural year as a member of the LA Galaxy, before moving to the San Jose Clash for the 1997 campaign. Prior to his time in MLS, Onalfo also played professionally in Mexico (Tampico FC, 1995-96), in the U.S.-based A-League (CT Wolves, 1994-95) and in France (FC LA Ciotat, 1991-92).

Onalfo also saw significant time representing the U.S. as a player. From 1987-1992, he played in over 100 games combined as a member of the U.S. Olympic team, the U.S. youth national teams and the full U.S. National Team. In 1992, he was named as a co-captain for the U.S. Olympic team that competed in Barcelona, Spain. In 1989, he served as a co-captain for the U.S. U-20 team, helping them to a fourth place finish at the U-20 World Championships in Saudi Arabia. At 18-years old, Onalfo earned a cap with the full U.S. Men’s National Team when he played in the U.S.’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica on June 14, 1988.

Onalfo spent his collegiate career at the University of Virginia, where he first teamed-up with coach Bruce Arena. In 1989, the Cavaliers shared the NCAA title with Santa Clara, battling to a 1-1 draw after sudden-death overtime. Onalfo, a central defender, earned All-ACC honors as a junior and senior.

At Ridgefield High in Ridgefield, Connecticut, Onalfo played on two state championship teams and was named as a High School All-American in 1987. He also won two conference titles and helped the Tigers reach the state finals, scoring 28 goals during his senior season.

Onalfo’s ties to the DC area are not limited to his time with United. In 1998, he launched Curt Onalfo Soccer in McLean, Virginia. Thousands of Washington-area youth were involved with the training and summer camp programs overseen by Onalfo. He also served as the Technical Director for McLean Youth Soccer.

Born on November 19, 1969 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Onalfo is a cancer survivor, having undergone treatment for Hodgkins Disease. He and his wife Sandra have two children – Christian (12) and Gabriela (8).


RELATED: Meet the coach at Black Finn in DC on Tuesday, January 5 from 6 to 8 PM

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