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LA Galaxy 2020 player postmortem: Cameron Dunbar

Homegrown had a great debut and then was buried.

MLS: Portland Timbers at LA Galaxy Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Dunbar entered the 2020 season as a freshly-signed 17-year-old Homegrown for the LA Galaxy.

The Carson native was a prospect who hadn’t played extensively with LA Galaxy II before signing the MLS deal — in fact, he made his pro debut in 2020 with Los Dos, but ended up playing just the one game with them, although he scored an assist and goal in a big win.

Those quick highlights give you a sense of Dunbar’s promise: He has great touch, accuracy and a nose for goal, and even the simple aspect of running, well, he looks like an athlete when he glides downfield on that fantastic goal.

After that debut for Los Dos, Dunbar made the plane to Orlando to join the first team at the MLS is Back Tournament, and he was thrust into the spotlight immediately, making his first MLS start in the first game, against the Portland Timbers, and looking quite good, particularly in the first half.

Here are Dunbar’s stats with the first team in 2020:

Cameron Dunbar 2020 LA Galaxy statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 4 1 82 0 0 3 0 0 0

As the stats show, beyond that start in Orlando, the minutes dried up for Dunbar. He made just three appearances, officially for just three, three and nine minutes, respectively. It was puzzling, considering the Galaxy needed an attacking spark after their four-game winning streak passed in the local return to play, and Dunbar never had his number meaningfully called again.

And while he’s young and I don’t think he would have cured all that ailed the Galaxy, I do think rotating more and giving more youngsters a shot, just to try stuff with the team faltering, made a ton of sense. Dunbar played well in his only long shift of the season, and then was buried. Gordon Wild had a fantastic debut off the bench, and then was buried. Kai Koreniuk waited forever to play, then promptly scored a winning goal in almost no minutes. Sense a trend here?

The coronavirus pandemic was likely even more costly for Dunbar this year, because he was almost certainly a ripe candidate to bounce back and forth between the MLS side and Galaxy II. But because the teams had to stay apart to try and maintain health, he didn’t get playing time he really could have used, and I think Los Dos would have been even better than they were with him.

The good news is with Guillermo Barros Schelotto no longer around to play the same 13 players every game, Dunbar could get more of a shot under the next head coach. Of course, given the historic pressure on the Galaxy to be the best, the next head coach may or may not take Dunbar seriously in their plans. Time will tell.

Dunbar looks set to stay with the Galaxy organization in 2021, since he’s still under contract. If the season takes place as planned, and if players can move between the first and reserve teams, I wonder if he’ll get more playing time at Los Dos to get some more seasoning at the pro level, and maybe get some increased minutes in MLS and other competitions, too. The sample size with Dunbar so far as a pro is very, very small, but hopefully he can continue to develop as a player and as importantly, hopefully the club will actually get him the playing time to see if he’s the real deal. The little we’ve seen so far is promising, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he becomes a budding star if he does get some run.

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