CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Todd Dunivant didn’t mince words when asked for his status regarding Sunday’s SuperClasico against Chivas USA (8 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, AM 1150, 1330 AM, LIVECHAT) at The Home Depot Center.
“I’m ready to go,” he said Thursday.
The 31-year-old left back has missed five games, including recent friendlies against Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid, since being forced to the sideline during the Galaxy’s 2-2 tie with the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 18. Dunivant was unintentionally kicked by Vancouver’s Dane Richards and had to leave the field after just 31 minutes with a hematoma in his right calf.
Dunivant did go the full 90 minutes in Tuesday’s Reserve League match, a 1-0 win over Chivas USA, but he has been forced to watch some of the Galaxy’s worst defensive performances of the season, including a 5-1 loss to Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid and, perhaps even more unsettling, last Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Seattle Sounders FC.
“It was painful to watch. It was painful for everyone involved,” said Dunivant, who added it is important for the Galaxy to bounce back this weekend with a quality effort.
“You want to come back strong from a game like that, and we certainly feel like we need to have a good performance to turn things back in the right direction,” he said. “They’d been going so well really since that extended break we had, and we want to continue that.
“And obviously coming off a 4-0 loss you want to come back and make a statement again.”
The Galaxy likely have no better player to make sure that happens than Dunivant. Now in his 12th season in MLS and sixth with the Galaxy (covering two stints, 2005-06, 2009-present) Dunivant was an MLS Best XI selection a year ago and was a key component in the club’s record-setting defense.
He has played in 20 regular season games (all starts) this year and has been a model of consistency at left back, something the Galaxy has been missing on a back line that has undergone constant reshuffling, including the use of rookie Bryan Gaul at his position this season.
“I don’t think we’ve had our back four together this year,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said Thursday after training. “It’s a long time not to have your back four back.
“Obviously as we’re getting healthy we’re able to go with a more consistent group.”
Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza is among those who will be glad to see Dunivant back on the field Sunday, should he get Arena’s OK to start against Chivas USA. Arena, being coy as usual, would not divulge his plans for this weekend’s game.
“He’s a veteran on our back line,” DeLaGarza said. “He has a lot of experience, he’s been all over the league, he was a well-deserved Best XI last year. He’s a big part of what we do.
“And he’s a smart guy, obviously, going to Stanford,” he added with a grin.