MLS Spotlight: Dunivant quietly enjoying career year for Galaxy

MLSDB08202011137

 Photo by David Bernal/ISIphotos.com

By THOMAS FLOYD

Todd Dunivant has gotten used to flying under the radar.

Not hearing his name called throughout a match tends to be a good thing. While he does like to get forward and provide service from the flank, the 30-year-old is cautious when choosing his overlapping runs. And of course, finding enough spotlight to go around can be a challenge for anyone on the Los Angeles Galaxy not named David Beckham, Landon Donovan or Robbie Keane.

But as far as left backs are concerned, Dunivant is about as steady as they come. Since rejoining the Galaxy in 2009, the Colorado native has started 80 out of a possible 90 league fixtures. Until being rested for last weekend's trip to Columbus, he had played every minute of every MLS match this season for the league's top defense.

"I tend not to get the headlines, I tend not to have the flashiest style," Dunivant acknowledged. "Maybe it's just the way I play, but a lot of the things I do just don't get noticed. At the end of the day, we've had the best defense in the league the past two years. So that is really what's important, and I'm happy with that. But it's never the worst thing to get recognition every now and then."

Dunivant, who played his 200th career match in May, noted that being in the lineup game in, game out has been a challenge this campaign when considering Los Angeles has been burdened with four more Champions League contests than it played last year, in addition to the four additional regular season matches every MLS team took on for 2011.

But nearly every time coach Bruce Arena has filled out his team sheet, Dunivant's name has been there. The defender has also enjoyed arguably his finest offensive season since his rookie year in 2003 with San Jose, notching four assists in league play. And Wednesday, he set up Mike Magee's opener in the Galaxy's crucial 2-1 win in Champions League play over Mexico's Monarcas Morelia.

"He's one of those guys who works hard every single day," Los Angeles centerback A.J. DeLaGarza said. "He's really low key, but he just does his job and that's what he's good at."

In his third season back with Los Angeles, which is 17-3-10 and close to clinching a second-straight Supporters' Shield, Dunivant has found comfort in the organization's "stability."

Before returning for a second stint with the Galaxy, Dunivant played for four clubs in six years. Looking back on those more volatile times, he recalled a series of front office changes that resulted in him being shipped from San Jose to Los Angeles to New York to Toronto and, finally, back to L.A.

"Sometimes, those things are out of your hands," Dunivant said. "You get new coaches, new general managers and a lot of turnover, anything can happen. I'm in a position that's pretty specialized, and there aren't a ton of solid, reliable left backs, so I'm going to always be in demand in that sense. So it makes for an easy trade option."

Off the top of his head, Dunivant can rattle off the number of goals Los Angeles has allowed the past four seasons — beginning with 62 in 2008, the campaign before he came back, and ending with 22 in 30 games this year.

With a youthful duo of Omar Gonzalez (22 years old) and DeLaGarza (23) in central defense, and 26-year-old Sean Franklin the first choice at right back, Dunivant has become the elder statesman of the Los Angeles back line.

"Todd's a good, calm player back there," DeLaGarza said. "Obviously, me and Omar have to direct in the middle. But Todd has a voice also, and you like all of your guys to be able to talk."

Although Gonzalez and Franklin were named to the MLS All-Star squad that faced Manchester United in July, coach Hans Backe chose converted midfielders Bobby Convey and Corey Ashe as the left backs on the MLS roster over Dunivant.

In January, Gonzalez, DeLaGarza and Franklin were called up to the U.S. national team for a friendly against Chile. After receiving two caps in the buildup to the 2006 World Cup and being named an alternate to the squad that traveled to Germany, Dunivant has been absent from the international scene despite left back being a glaring hole in the U.S. player pool.

With new coach Jurgen Klinsmann bringing a fresh approach to the national program, however, Dunivant is hoping it's never too late for a second chance.

"That's something that's been on my radar, and I hope I'm on Jurgen's radar because I think I would suit that team very well," he said. "I'd do the job, I'd be reliable, I'd be solid, and I think that's something we haven't had obviously at left back for the national team."

For now, though, Dunivant already has his sights set on the playoffs. Last year, he started 27 games before straining his hamstring at season's end and losing his job to veteran Eddie Lewis. He ended up playing just 10 minutes in the postseason as Los Angeles, the Supporters' Shield winner, crashed out with a 3-0 loss to FC Dallas in the Western Conference final.

"It was very frustrating," Dunivant said. "That's the time you want to be in there to help your team. It's the crunch time, and in this league, you're judged about how you do in the playoffs. Supporters' Shields are great and all, but at the end of the day, that's not really what people remember."

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS Spotlight, MLS- LA Galaxy. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to MLS Spotlight: Dunivant quietly enjoying career year for Galaxy

  1. Boy, I says:

    Dunivant is a stud. I noticed right away when he wasn’t in the lineup last week. Galaxy are lucky to have such a consistent (and healthy) left back this season.

  2. KungFuSoccer says:

    An unmentioned skill this guy has is hucking the ball. His throw ins on the offensive end are like corner kicks.

  3. TommyOC says:

    It really is a tragedy that Dunivant isn’t getting more notice in the form of All-Star picks and USMNT caps.

    Honestly, considering how many other defenders Klinsmann is calling up for meaningless friendly whose name isn’t “Dunivant,” I can’t help but think that Todd is way down on the coach’s list. Which is stunning when you consider there are two player-pools which Jurgen is VERY familiar with: German-Americans in the Bundesliga… and Los Angeles-based players. Guess which one he isn’t pulling from?

    Which, honestly, would be the first major mistake our new coach is making. I know US Soccer is keen on having a wide-array of MLS talent on USMNT, but if you’ve got an all-American backline that’s doing its job well, you should consider giving it more than passing glances.

    I’ll readily admit to being partial, but there is no better-tuned defensive line in MLS than the Galaxy’s. Just once, I’d like to see Franklin, De La Garza, Gonzalez, and Dunivant on the backline for the USMNT at the same time. Hell, you’d be still better of calling back Berhalter and Hejduk if all you’re going to do is futz around with the likes of Orozco and Castillo.

  4. primoone says:

    Todd is a really solid and experienced defender. He plays really simple balls in the attacking half. Two knocks on him however, he can get a bit confused on Set piece marking. In addition to this, if he is pressured by two or more opponants while on the dribble, he can get panicky and cough the ball up. Instead of playing it long or all the way back to the keeper in those situations, he forces a pass and compromises possession. If he keeps it simple, he is really solid. International quality? Speed may be an issue.

  5. Javier says:

    I’ve been saying for a while he’s the most under-rated left back in the league. I’ve read that he’s slow, and maybe that’s true. But his positioning is always good. He reads the game well, gets forward, and makes some very good crosses. And if I’m not mistaken he’s a natural left footer as a left back.

    I’d like to see him get called into the national team, but it seems Jurgen Klinnsman has a youth movement going. Too bad because from what I’ve seen he’s better than any left back that’s been playing for the national team going back to the last world cup. Maybe his boss (Bruce Arena) can put in a good word for him with Jurgen.

  6. Scott says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m a huge Galaxy supporter, and while I think Dunivant is a great MLSer, I don’t think he would be the solution to our left back problem. He’s too slow and as you pointed out, he doesnt handle the ball well with pressure. I’m sure he would do a better job than Castillo, but in the end we need more out of an international player.

  7. Alex says:

    I assume your Galaxy/USMNT backline is hypothetical, because while Dunivant very well may deserve more looks than he gets, and Gonzo may yet prove to be useful, I don’t think the other two are national team caliber, or at least good enough to beat out someone better. Franklin has gotten looks before, I believe, but no way he beats out Cherundolo, or Chandler who is much younger, for that matter.

  8. Dinho says:

    Todd is a great guy and a solid player. I think the only knock is pace. I played with him before he went to Stanford and he was always confident, simple and reliable. Nothing flashy but also a rock and would keep the ball. Some things never change.

  9. Dinho says:

    also = always*

  10. bottlcaps says:

    It seemed to me that Bob Bradley preferred his flanking backs to be able to get forward into the attack on a regular basis. Unfortunately when you do this, you must track back your midfielders as cover, or make sure your backs are extra speedy to get back. Dunivant is not particular speedy and maybe not the best crosser, but he can deliver great passes and is known to get some good crosses when called upon. Under the defense schema Arena has laid out, Dunivant is the cover guy, allowing the other flanking back to make forays into the attack. THIS is why the Galaxy has the BEST defense in the league.

    If Klinsmann wants to build a defense from the back AND is not looking for consistent attack forays from his corner backs, then he should look no further than to bring in Dunivant.

  11. biff says:

    I don’t understand why so many people are hitting so hard on Castillo. Yes, he had some bad passes, but so did most of the guys. Castillo’s defending was pretty darn good. He was not responsible for either of the two goals scored when he was on the field. Plus, against Costa Rica, he had some good runs down the left side. Not great performances in both games, but showed promise, especially considering that he basically defected against Mexico and was jittery as heck to be on the same field as the Mexican team. Plus, they attacked on him hard the whole match. I hope he continues to improve at the club level and at some point gets called back to the USMNT.

  12. J Dog says:

    If not otherwise mentioned. Todd Dunivant is a real down to earth nice person. I sat next to him at Landon Donovan’s “Homecoming” It really was the highlight for me. He is very knowledgeable, kind. We spent like 30 minutes talking and it was just like catching up with an old friend from high school.

    For those who may think I am making this up.

    link to farm5.static.flickr.com

    Anyway, I am happy for Todd. I do think he would have really helped the US at the Gold Cup, but that is Bob’s loss now.

  13. John says:

    Dunivant would be a much better option then Castillo or Bornstein. But at 30 i dont think he should be called up we need young LB

  14. A wise man once says:

    Hucking???

  15. Josh_Oc# says:

    STH & I gotta say, Dunivant. is. LEGIT.
    Nothing out of this world, but definitely Mr. Consistency.

  16. Jason B says:

    At least he’s not f*cking it…

  17. TommyOC says:

    Hypothetical, sure, but both Franklin and De La Garza – the former getting two looks, the latter not a cap – are better than Orzco and Castillo. Perhaps better than Chandler… Guy hasnt impressed too much yet, either.

    Perhaps not Lichaj, tho. And def not Cherundolo or Spector.

  18. TommyOC says:

    I am no fan of Castillo, but I’ll readily admit that he looked sharp when in possession and on the attack. Unfortunately, he’s a fullback… And his defending and distribution from the back line were horrible, imo.

  19. clin says:

    age/speed may be a factor but the US team also has to get the job done in the matches that count just to qualify for world cup. experience counts. he’s a natural lefty. good passing esp with the right players in midfield who check back and do their job with distribution. can deliver great long balls and crosses too. long throw-ins. ability to be dangerous on offensive set plays. all around solid player that would be good addition to a US team under jurgen that so far has lacked consistency. would love to see a backline with cherundolo (older than todd), gonzalez, delagarza and dunivant. (i have a galaxy bias but they do in fact have the best defense in the league.)

  20. GW says:

    As you say, I doubt anyone is as familiar with the Galaxy players as JK unless its Arena.

    The fact that he is leaving Dunivant and Omar out to this point should tell you something.

  21. Randy says:

    Good defense, but little in attack or distribution. He is better when Cardozo helps the possession in midfield.

  22. Rod says:

    DLG is most underrated player in MLS and FIFA 12

  23. Mitch says:

    Dont count out Franklin…He has all the tools and he is better in central defense (ROTY). He is still very young and better than Ream for sure.

  24. Vetol says:

    +1, except Dunivant is Canadian

  25. U Dog says:

    Because there are tons of defenders in MLS that we know are superior

  26. B Luv says:

    No More Cherundalo please

  27. GW says:

    He already has Bocanegra to fill the role you describe, if he wanted it that way which it seems he does not.

  28. GW says:

    When did Canada annex the greater Denver, Colorado metropolitan area which is where Dunivant was born?

    Did they go through Wyoming and Montana to do so? Should we tighten up our border security?

    Dunivant has two caps. Are those games now forfeited?