CARSON, Calif. – Todd Dunivant is back on the LA Galaxy's training field, and although he's doing little more than running, that's enough to put a big smile on his face.
The veteran defender has been out since suffering an abdominal tear in LA's April 6 victory over Chivas USA, and his recovery has not gone as expected. Now it's on the right path, he says, and he hopes to be back soon.
"It feels amazing [to be out here]," Dunivant, who started running late last month, said this week. "You'd think coming back and doing fitness is kind of a drag, but I love it. I love every minute, because I'm actually doing something."
He was unable to do much of anything until recovering from a May surgery to repair the tear.
"They thought it would heal on its own, and it never did," Dunivant said. "So we took an MRI five weeks after the initial injury, and it showed zero signs of improvement. It's frustrating from that standpoint, but I had the surgery right away after that, and we had to give it a good five weeks of absolute rest."
Dunivant, 33, missed all but nine games of the 2008 season while with Toronto FC because of a broken ankle, but he says this is the worst injury he's dealt with.
"This one's just so frustrating, because we thought it would heal, and I kept pushing, trying to get back, and it really didn't heal at all," he said. "Then having to sit around and do nothing. I've never experienced anything like that. If you want to talk torture for an athlete, that's it, just being able to not do anything."
The left back was hurt late in the 3-0 win over Chivas at StubHub Center, just the Galaxy's third league match of the season, when he changed his mind at the last second on a pass he was set to deliver to midfield and twisted to send the ball to central defender Leonardo.
"I had been feeling tight that whole week, and we had started working on it, but you feel tight a lot of times," Dunivant said. "And in the game, I was thinking, 'Man, it's real tight,' and at halftime even put some heat on it. [I made the pass] and that was enough. And it went. And I knew right away."
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He said he struggled to do everything, that nearly every movement brought pain, "even sneezing or laughing or talking loudly. I mean, honestly, if I would raise my voice, it would be a sharp pain."
Only in the last week has he been able to sit up from a prone position. He had had to "roll over, push myself up."
Now that he's working again, his progress has been steady. He's able to cut and zig-zag and says "eventually, we'll start doing ball work and building back up" and then work toward playing a few games for LA Galaxy II, the club's USL PRO-based reserve team.
"We're not setting a timetable at this point," Dunivant said. "It's do what you can, keep pushing it, and it's been really good. I mean, from where we were a week ago, it's come a long way. ... Let the medical staff and training staff do their stuff, and I'll be back soon enough."