If Curt Onalfo has mastered anything three games into his first season as Galaxy coach, it’s the ability to view negatives as positives.
And that’s a good trait to have when you’re managing a team that has had twice as many starters lost to injury (six) as goals scored (three). The Galaxy didn’t even play a game in the last two weeks and they still lost arguably their best player when Sebastian Lletget went down with a foot injury 15 minutes into his competitive debut with the U.S. national team.
Lletget is scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday and will miss a minimum of four months, meaning Onalfo will have to wait until at least August before he’ll have a chance to see his best 11 players on the field together. Until then, he said, he’ll embrace the opportunity to take a look at others.
“Of course it is” frustrating, said Onalfo, whose team ends its two-week international break Saturday night when it plays at Vancouver against the winless Whitecaps. “But you have two ways to handle it. You can whine about it and make excuses. Or you can find solutions and make the most of it.
“And I’m going to make the most of it.”
See? Onalfo probably could have taught Norman Vincent Peale a thing or two about the power of positive thinking. However, the dark cloud that has followed the Galaxy through the first month of the MLS season may finally be lifting.
The team is coming off its first win in three games and will go to Vancouver healthier than it has been all year. Forward Gyasi Zardes and defender Ashley Cole could make their season debuts while forward Giovani dos Santos and goalkeeper Brian Rowe are also ready after being sidelined by injury two weeks ago.
“As of today,” Onalfo said Thursday, wisely hedging his bets, “they’re all available. They’re traveling. They’re coming.”
He didn’t say they’d all play, though.
One player he does expect to have in the starting lineup is speedy midfielder Ema Boateng, who scored the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake two weeks ago. Onalfo said Boateng will take Lletget’s spot on the right wing of the Galaxy’s attack.
“He’s been outstanding. It’s been so hard not to have him on the field,” the coach said of Boateng.
Onalfo indicated Lletget’s absence could also mean playing time for the likes of Raul Mendiola, Ari Lassiter and Bradford Jamieson IV, just as the continued absence of defender Robbie Rogers with a nerve problem in his foot has resulted in playing time for Rafael Garcia and Nathan Smith at right back.
“It’s more opportunity for some of our wide players. That’s what it comes down to,” Onalfo said.
Then there were the long practices during the break, which provided an opportunity for the team to build chemistry and continuity, things the Galaxy’s evolving lineup has enjoyed little of this season.
“We’re jelling, we’re getting better every day. We’re just becoming a team,” Onalfo said. “And injuries are part of it.
“You’ve just got to keep progressing, keep getting better and in the end you get stronger.”