CARSON, Calif. – This weekend will mark a homecoming, of sorts, for the LA Galaxy’s Todd Dunivant when the defending MLS Cup champions take on the San Jose Earthquakes at sold-out Stanford Stadium on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, lagalaxy.com/gamedaylive).
Dunivant played for the Cardinal from 1999-2002, he still has family and friends in the area and his parents will be coming out from the family home in Wheat Ridge, Colo., to take in the game.
“It will be nice to go home,” the 31-year-old defender said Wednesday.
Dunivant not only is eager for the latest edition of the California Clasico, which pits the resurgent Galaxy (6-8-2, 20 points) against the high-flying Earthquakes (10-3-3, 33 points), but he’ll be back at Stanford Stadium, which he hasn’t been in since its 2005 demolition and ensuing $100 million renovation. Dunivant said he never played any soccer matches in the facility – the Cardinal’s games were held in the adjacent soccer stadium – and understandably is curious to see what the venue now looks like.
Saturday’s Western Conference showdown will mark the second time the Earthquakes have played there in as many years. They tied the New York Red Bulls 2-2 last July 2 in front of a crowd of 41,028.
The stadium’s old capacity of more than 85,000 has been reduced to 50,000, and Dunivant has heard the new dimensions resemble that of the Earthquakes’ current home of tiny Buck Shaw Stadium in nearby Santa Clara which seats just over 10,000.
“It will be a tight game,” he said, “which I suppose is kind of standard for the Earthquakes, from the old Spartan Stadium days and also now at Buck Shaw. I think we’ll expect a game like Houston or Portland where it’s really tight confines and there will be a lot of crosses and a lot of one-on-one battles.
“You know the ball is going to be in your end very quickly and vice versa. And you can get the ball in their end very fast, too.”
Dunivant said he still has fond memories of Stanford Stadium before it was rebuilt, but his initial impressions of the facility, which originally was built in 1921, aren’t particularly pleasant.
“It was my first day at Stanford as a freshman in 1999,” he recalled.
“We had to run the Cooper test, two miles in under 12 minutes.
Obviously it wasn’t the most enjoyable experience, but I did pass so that was good.
“I went 11:25 and it’s been downhill ever since.”