CARSON, Calif. – Todd Dunivant cleared his latest hurdle on his recovery by going 78 minutes for LA Galaxy II in their 3-2 victory over Arizona United SC.
With Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena sitting on the Los Dos bench observing the defender, Dunivant started along the left side of defense and was rarely tested by the Arizona attack. Making his first appearance since undergoing an abdominal injury in April, Dunivant was his usual steady self as he shut down the left flank and provided several dangerous probing passes forward.
After his first rehab assignment with Los Dos after two shifts on the Galaxy first team bench, Dunivant was all smiles after the win.
“It was absolutely perfect for me,” Dunivant said. “Getting 78 minutes in my first game was ahead of expectations because we were talking about 45 and maybe pushing it a little longer so to be able to go 75 was awesome.
“The biggest thing for me is fitness and getting the first game out of the way is huge. It gets the shock out of your [system],” he continued. “I feel like it was really big tonight.”
Following the match, Galaxy II head coach Curt Onalfo agreed that it was vintage Dunivant on the left flank on Saturday evening.
“It was good to get him back,” Onalfo told LAGalaxy.com. “I thought he performed well and then fatigued a little bit, but his performance was consistent all the way through.”
In the opening 45 minutes, Dunivant was particularly effective on the offensive end as he connected well with Bradford Jamieson IV going forward to put the Arizona defense under pressure. The 33-year-old was at his most dangerous in the fifth minute when he played a pinpoint through ball to Charlie Rugg who blazed down the left flank and forced a save out of goalkeeper Evan Newton.
As the match wore on, Dunivant’s defensive chops were needed as United began to create chances, finding two goals to cut Galaxy II’s lead to one before Dunivant was removed in the 78th minute.
“It felt really good connecting with [Jamieson IV] on the wings and [Jose Villarreal] and Charlie up front and I was able to play them some good balls,” said Dunivant. “In the second half, we didn’t keep the ball and we had to play defense, but in that sense I got a lot of good fitness while I was defending and sprinting back.
With a stint with Los Dos under his belt, Dunivant must now win the starting left back position from incumbent Robbie Rogers. The newly converted defender has shined in Dunivant’s absence.
While Dunivant is aiming to reclaim the starting left back position that he’s held for years, he insists there is no competition with Rogers.
“For me, it’s about doing what I’m doing and what I’ve always done. Everything will work itself out. I’m looking to contribute to a great run that we’re having right now,” Dunivant said. “In pro sports, you’re always in a competition. We have a lot of games coming up and I’ll continue to train and try to get fitter and everything else will take care of itself.”
Dunivant may have an opportunity to be part of any rotation that Arena has planned over the next two weeks as the Galaxy will play four games in the next 12 days, starting with Saturday’s road clash with the Columbus Crew.
“We have a lot of games coming up. It’s great because it’s exactly what you want. Tonight I was really happy and getting this first game out of the way is massive,” said Dunivant. “It’s another reason why having Galaxy II is such an important part of our club. It’s invaluable.”