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On the Mend: Defender Todd Dunivant Sets Sights on Returning for Season Opener

February 25, 2014 - Major League Soccer (MLS) Los Angeles Galaxy

CARSON, Calif. - Todd Dunivant has been on the shelf for much of the preseason due to a nagging hamstring injury, but on Tuesday the veteran left back returned to full training with hopes of being in the LA Galaxy's starting lineup for the March 8 Home Opener.

The road to recovery has been a frustrating one for Dunivant due to the unpredictable nature of hamstring injuries, however, just to return to training was a step in the right direction.

"It's great to be back out. It was a tough day too. We did a lot of fitness as well as soccer work," Dunivant told reporters. "I think I need to get in soccer situations again. You can do all the running that you want on the side, but there's a different fitness when it comes to soccer. The more that I can get involved in the games is where I'm going to get real fitness"

Following his first day of training since late January, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena stated that Dunivant "still has a ways to go," before he can be considered for a starting role.

Dunivant is aiming to return before the season opener against Real Salt Lake, but he admits that it may be a bridge too far with less than two weeks of preseason remaining.

"I'm trying to get ready as soon as possible," said Dunivant. "It's hard to say at this point. I felt a little clumsy and a little awkward out there today, but I feel like that's normal for the first day back."

If Dunivant is unable to go on March 8, the Galaxy could turn to veteran James Riley who has had an impressive preseason trial. A right back by trade, Dunivant's injury has forced Riley to move to the opposite flank, where he has shined in six preseason appearances.

"I'm taking it day by day. This would be my 10th season opener that I would start," said Riley. "Todd is an important player to this organization. I'm just trying to do my bit and earn it every day. It's competitive every day here and I love that kind of urgency. 

"That's Bruce's goal to have players who can compete in different positions and when people go away on international duty or suffer an injury that you have people who can step in and keep the standard high."

No matter what happens, Dunivant believes that the Galaxy's left flank will be in capable hands once the season opener rolls around.

"[Riley] has played great," said Dunivant. "I've always enjoyed watching James, he's a seasoned pro who can play on both sides."

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