CARSON, Calif. – When sorting out the Los Angeles Galaxy’s starting defense for the playoff opener at Qwest Field, left back should have been a no-brainer. With 27 games played in the regular season, Todd Dunivant was seemingly set for his usual role on the left side of the Galaxy’s defense against the Seattle Sounders.
But a hamstring injury kept Dunivant sidelined. After sitting out the game and taking a couple of days to rest and recover, Dunivant said he was feeling better and hoped to be available for the return leg on Sunday at The Home Depot Center (9 p.m ET, ESPN).
“I did everything [in training Wednesday],” Dunivant said. “I’m still trying to be smart about it, ease into the week a little bit and not test it too much. But I did everything and didn’t have any restrictions. That’s a good sign.”
Veteran midfielder/defender Eddie Lewis stepped in against the Sounders and helped the Galaxy pick up a shutout and victory as the club won 1-0. The decision for Dunivant to sit the game out and to have Lewis start was not made until less than four hours from kickoff.
“I felt something on Thursday and tried to push through it,” Dunivant said. “I trained on Friday, trained on Saturday. It just got worse and worse each day.
"We were talking whether to try and give it a go anyway on Sunday and ultimately the trainers, Bruce, all of us kind of decided that it didn’t make sense to try and play through that and potentially be out the rest of the playoffs and also to potentially put our team in danger as well.”
Thus, Lewis got the task of slowing down Sounders right midfielder Sanna Nyassi and the rest of Seattle’s potent offense.
“Eddie’s been around a long time and knows how to play,” Dunivant remarked. “He’s a gamer. He got out there and did the job. He hasn’t started in a match in long time and stepped in in the playoffs in a very difficult situation against a very fast player [and] Eddie completely shut [Nyassi] down.”
Seattle will enter the match Sunday needing a victory to have a shot of advancing to the Western Conference Final. The onus is on Seattle to score, which could make for a tough opponent. The Sounders boast a high-octane offense that has perhaps made adjustments to counter LA’s defensive-minded scheme.
“We’re very optimistic,” Dunivant said of his prospects to start. “[I] had an MRI this week and there were no major tears, no major inflammation. It was a mild strain. Not playing kind of avoided it making it a lot worse.”
Still, with Lewis having performed well enough, Dunivant said he might have to fight for his starting spot back.
“I’ll leave that up to Bruce,” he said, “but we’re in good hands either way.”