CARSON, Calif. – If it’s flash and sizzle you’re looking for on the LA Galaxy, you won’t find it at left back. But what you will find there is one of most consistent, unsung performers in Major League Soccer.
Veteran defender Todd Dunivant, who turns 31 in December, celebrated an impressive milestone on Wednesday night when he played in the 200th game of his MLS career in the Galaxy’s 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center. Dunivant also kept alive his streak of playing every minute of every game this season and now has played a league-high 1,260 minutes in 2011.
Dunivant even attempted two shots Wednesday, including one rare, first-half attempt with his right foot.
“Maybe my first career shot with my right foot,” he said with a grin, “and it almost went in. Maybe I’ll take some more.”
Dunivant began his MLS career with San Jose in 2003, when he played in all 30 games as rookie, and said he wasn’t aware of his career mark until this week.
“It crept up on me,” said Dunivant, who is in his ninth season and second stint with Los Angeles.
“I guess I’m doing something right if I play 200 games.”
He certainly doesn’t get the acclaim given to high-profile teammates such as Juan Pablo Angel, David Beckham or Landon Donovan, but don’t think Dunivant is a forgotten man.
He might not get the attention he deserves around the league or even from U.S. National Team coach Bob Bradley – Dunivant has only two caps to his credit – but the Galaxy are well aware of Dunivant’s value.
“I would say you could argue that,” head coach Bruce Arena said when asked if Dunivant is underappreciated. “We’re certainly learning to appreciate him a lot.
“He’s done an excellent job here and is having I think the best year of his career so far. He’s doing a fabulous job, no question about that. I don’t know what more you can say.
“He’s been great, he really has been.”
Dunivant had offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia and said he feels as good as ever.
Asked if he could play in every game this season – the Galaxy’s schedule will get much busier with CONCACAF Champions League and U.S. Open Cup matches looming on the horizon – Dunivant responded, “Who wouldn’t? It might be tough when you talk about Open Cup and Champions League and all that. Three games every week, that’s a lot.
“We’ll play it by ear, but whenever I can be in there to help the team as a steadying force back there that’s what I want to do.”
His Galaxy coaches and teammates marvel at his steady play.
“First of all, congrats to him for that,” fellow defender A.J. DeLaGarza said when informed of Dunivant’s career milestone. “He’s just a rock. He’s somebody you can depend on … he’s been through it all. He’s someone we can look to for leadership in the back.”
Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who earned his fifth shutout Wednesday, said Dunivant “has stabilized the team.” And if he doesn’t get the notoriety he deserves, it comes with the territory, he added.
“If you play for this team, the Galaxy,” Ricketts said, “you get lost in the stars, so people tend to focus on our bigger names. But we appreciate every player and know the value of every player, and we know his value.
“He’s a good pro and a good player.”