One of the best left backs in MLS history has decided the 2015 season will be his last.
Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant, one of just four players to win five or more league titles, has announced he will retire at the end of the season. The news was released Wednesday on the Galaxy Web site.
“At some point, you realize that you don’t want to be a professional rehabber or gym rat,” Dunivant told LAGalaxy.com. “If I’m not able to be out on the field and be able to compete every day to do the job that I love then it’s time to go. I’m at peace with that.”
Dunivant, 33, started his pro career with San Jose in 2003 and has played 282 regular-season games for the Earthquakes, Red Bulls, Toronto FC, and the Galaxy. He won his first title with the Quakes in 2003 and in two separate stints with the Galaxy was a member of the 2005, 2011, 2013, and 2014 championship teams.
In an ironic twist he has won titles with the other three players who top the title list: Jeff Agoos, Brian Mullan and Landon Donovan were teammates on the 2003 Quakes, and he won four more titles alongside Donovan with the Galaxy. Donovan tops the list with six titles, the others have five.
“We’ve known each other a long time,” said Donovan in a video posted on the Galaxy Web site. “We always connected off the field. I think we see the world similarly off the field. On the field a lot of times we played together a lot; the latter stages of my career, I would play left midfield. It was always good to have him behind me, giving me instruction. He’s had an amazing career, and when he looks back and reflects, he’s going to be really, really proud of what he’s accomplished.”
An All-American at Stanford as a senior in 2002, the native of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, was taken with the sixth overall pick in the 2003 SuperDraft and started all 30 regular-season games as a rookie. Renowned for accurate left-footed service as well as a long throw-in, Dunivant has started 269 games, scored seven goals, and registered 21 assists. Injuries and the conversion of Robbie Rogers from midfielder to left back have limited his playing time the past two seasons to just 10 games.
“My role was always to be the kind of guy who didn’t necessarily get the headlines and for me that’s good. As a defender, if you’re not talking about me then you’re also not talking about the guy that I’m marking,” Dunivant said. “Some of the most dangerous players are outside midfielders and if you don’t hear anything about him during the game then that’s a good thing. A lot of what I did was addition by subtraction and it’s okay that I didn’t get noticed all the time because it was something that I was proud of.”
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, who called up Dunivant in 2006 while coach of the U.S. national team and gave him his only two caps, praised his efforts for the Galaxy. Dunivant played 223 games for the club in all competitions
“Todd has been a great part of the Galaxy,” Arena said. “I’ll always remember him as a great player, a great person, and a great leader for our sport in the United States.”
His only notable individual honor is inclusion on the MLS Best XI in 2011, yet that long list of titles and trophies is impressive. And they have been earned.
“He’s a champion, he’s a winner,” says Donovan. “There’s not many people who’ve won five rings; Todd has five. When you look back at his career, you say, ‘He was a good player, a solid player,’ but when you look closely you say, ‘Oh, that team won, that team won a championship, that team won an Open Cup, that team won a championship. Everywhere he went, he was a winner.
“That’s not a coincidence. That doesn’t happen by accident. It’d be incredible if the Galaxy could send him out this year as a champion. I’d love nothing more than to be the two guys that have six rings in MLS history be me and Todd. That would be pretty special. I hope it happens.”
His retirement is not effective immediately. Though he’s slid down the depth chart and has played only three league games this season, he hopes to get some more game action before it’s all over. He’s seldom been healthy the past two seasons. In 2014, he suffered an abdominal tear, then a torn groin. This year he’s been sidelined by a calf injury and plantar fasciitis.
“We have three or four months of the season, I want to get back in the mix and do my part for the team,” said Dunivant. “We have a lot of games coming up with [Concacaf] Champions League and the playoff push. This is the fun time of the year and I want to be ready to help.”