The most important things the LA Galaxy gained in their one-sided loss at Columbus on the weekend, aside from another Gyasi Zardes goal, were the second-half entrances of veteran left back Todd Dunivant and forward Alan Gordon.
Both could play important roles as the Galaxy’s season-defining eight-games-in-30-days stretch rambles on through mid-September, with the next stop Wednesday night in suburban Denver against the Colorado Rapids.
Dunivant, who in the 4-1 defeat to the Crew saw his first MLS action since tearing an abdominal muscle back on April 6, could be pressed into service more quickly than expected as Robbie Rogers deals with a quadriceps injury.
Gordon, who last week returned to LA (9-5-7) in a trade from the San Jose Earthquakes, provides a different, more physical dimension up front that ought to be valuable as head coach Bruce Arena rotates his players to keep them fresh for the difficult span ahead.
Dunivant, who got in a good eight minutes in Ohio, could get the call at left back after Rogers exited the game after aggravating a quad injury he’d sustained in training a week ago.
"It’s a great opportunity," Dunivant on Monday told the Galaxy Insider in audio the club distributed. "Let’s see what Bruce decides. I’m ready to go and anxious to get back on the field. We’ve been on a great run, and I want to continue that."
Dunivant had been on the bench in the previous two league games, but that was designed to get him into game rhythm after so much time away from the field. He’s been training fully since late July and played 78 minutes in the Galaxy II’s USL Pro victory over Arizona United on Aug. 9.
"It wasn’t the best circumstances -- we were, obviously, down three goals -- but it was great to be able to get on the field and get some minutes," Dunivant said.
"It’s not easy as a defender to get minutes. There’s not a lot of situations where it makes sense to sub defenders, so I was, obviously, happy to be on the field, but it would have been nice if the score was maybe the other way around."
Rogers, who has started at left back in 10 of LA’s last 12 competitive games, said after Saturday’s loss that he would be "day-to-day."
"I felt good in the first half, but in the second half I couldn’t play anymore," he said. "I couldn’t move. It’s kind of why I was just sitting back. ... I tried to play through that injury. It was affecting too much of the way I was playing. I couldn’t cover ground, so I had to take myself out, unfortunately."
Gordon made his first appearance in a Galaxy uniform since 2010, coming on in the 70th minute as LA tried to rally from a 2-1 deficit. Instead, the Crew scored two late goals to pull away.
"It felt good to be out there," Gordon told the Galaxy Insider on Tuesday. "Obviously, not the debut that I was hoping for, for the result for the team. But I’m glad to open my account and get going."
Gordon, who was with the Galaxy from 2004 until 2010, scored 13 goals two years ago for the Earthquakes, and he says he’s the same player today. LA, with especially Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, Gyasi Zardes, Stefan Ishizaki and Marcelo Sarvas, has greater attacking weapons than does San Jose.
"I’m excited," Gordon said. "To play with such creative players as we have, there’s opportunities out there. I know if I’m sharp and I take my chances, I can score some goals."
With so many games in so short a span ahead, Gordon figures he’s going to get ample chances to hit the net. Arena will spread the minutes around more so in the next few games than he has in the past month or so.
"I’m expecting more minutes," Gordon said. "We’ve got a lot of games, and so everybody is going to need to contribute, so I’m looking to get sharper each day and contribute moving forward."