Crystal Dunn is no stranger to titles. From securing a 2012 NCAA Championship title with North Carolina to winning the 2019 World Cup, Dunn has shown herself to be a major force in women’s soccer. Now, Dunn has one more title to add to that list: mom.
Around four months after giving birth to her son, Marcel, Dunn is lacing up her boots and putting on the kit for her NWSL team, the Portland Thorns, just returning from her first camp back with the U.S. Women’s National Team in early September. Dunn subbed in at the 86' minute for Sophia Smith, against the Orlando Pride in the Thorns 2-0 win on the road marking her first minutes back since the birth of her son.
Dunn has a Hermann Trophy and accolades including ACC Player of the Year, ACC Offensive Player of the Year, and ACC Defensive Player of the Year just to name a few collegiate awards. Dunn is also two appearances away from 100 caps with the U.S., as she’s been in the mix since 2014. With the ability Dunn has shown, she’s not done with that any time soon.
Dunn last played with the Thorns in October of 2021, and her last cap with the U.S. was in September 2021. She makes a huge impact anytime she steps on the pitch as she is a versatile, strong, and a highly intelligent player. Dunn started her career as a forward but switched to outside back during her time with the national team. However, she still excelled as a forward in the NWSL, winning the 2015 Golden Boot with the Washington Spirit.
After her trade to Portland in 2020, Dunn primarily played as an attacking midfielder, helping feed forwards and create attacks offensively. With the national team, she has to switch gears, as she is employed as a left back. Dunn certainly brings her attacking skills to her spot in the backline, a quality in outside backs that has evolved to be more prized by coaches than ever. She’s also a highly-skilled one on one defender. While Dunn is a stellar outside back, she shines the most when allowed to move up field and create attacking chances.
Dunn’s return to the field has everyone on the edge of their seat, eager to see her back on the pitch, ruling the game. Teammates have always highly praised her and the ability to be so versatile on teams.
“She has the ability to lift people up and to encourage people and support people in a way I’ve seen rarely from other players,” longtime friend and defensive partner Tierna Davidson said about Dunn.
During her career, she’s played almost every position, but says her favorite to play is attacking midfield.
“Sometimes I do feel like I'm losing a sense of myself or I'm giving up my joy to be a part of something bigger,” Dunn shared in an interview with USA Today.
With four games left in the regular season, the Portland Thorns need some wins to maintain their fourth place standing and keep their playoff dreams alive. Dunn’s return to the field might be just what the Thorns need after a 3-1 loss against the ninth place North Carolina Courage, Aug 24., and a 2-0 loss to the San Diego Wave, Aug. 27.