Los Angeles Soccer: Emiliano Dudar
CARSON -- Todd Dunivant should have been in Panama on Wednesday, getting a look at left back with the U.S. national team. Instead he was at Home Depot Center, taking part in the first stages of the Galaxy's preparations for the coming season.
The veteran defender is coming off an MLS Best XI campaign that figured to vault him into U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann's first January camp -- especially considering the Americans' slim pickings on the left -- but the call never came.
Dunivant, who has been passed over so many times, took the news with a sense of resignation and sharpened his focus for the task at hand: helping the Galaxy build on its phenomenal success last season while bolstering a backline that has lost its leader.
The Galaxy is what really matters, Dunivant knows, but it still would have been nice to spend the past couple of weeks showing off for Klinsmann and his staff.
“That stuff's always a head-scratcher sometimes, but it's out of my control,” Dunivant, 31, said as the Galaxy opened their preseason camp this week. “And I've got to just to what I can do with the Galaxy, and if it's enough to get me a look, then it is. This time around it wasn't, but I'm gonna keep doing my thing here.
“Bruce [Arena] demands a lot out of us, and if we're doing well for him, he demands a national-team level out of us. And I think you saw last year, you saw a lot of guys step up their games and play at that kind of a level. And that's what Bruce demands. I mean, he was the national team coach for eight years.”
Dunivant certainly met the demands last year. An elegant attacking left back who has sharpened his defensive skills remarkably over the years, he was L.A.'s most consistent performer -- and he went the distance in a team-best 32 league games, all four playoff matches, all six CONCACAF Champions League games and one of the U.S. Open Cup matches. He also appeared in all six friendlies.
“Todd has been very good ... for the most part rock solid,” Arena said during the playoffs last year. “This is possibly Todd's best year in the league. [It's about] experience, just understanding the areas he's had to be a little bit better in and being more consistent. I think he's accomplished that.”
Klinsmann's snub has provided some benefits, allowing Dunivant more offseason time to rest before what could be the longest season the Galaxy has ever played. The first game that counts is March 7, a Champions League quarterfinal first leg at Toronto FC. They hope to play, preferably at home again, in the MLS Cup final on Dec. 1. And if in April they win the Champions League title, they'll be in Morocco for he Dec. 11-21 FIFA Club World Cup.