FourFourTwo's USWNT Top 50: No. 4 – Crystal Dunn
In the history of the U.S. women’s national team, it is difficult to find a player who became more famous for what she did after not making the team than Crystal Dunn.
On April 15, 2015, Jill Ellis announced a 23-woman World Cup roster with Dunn as the most notable cut. Three days later, she scored her first professional goal in a Washington Spirit victory over Sky Blue FC. It was the first of seven straight games, and 11 out of 13, in which Dunn had either a goal or an assist. In the 13th game, she recorded a hat trick before halftime, highlighted by a stunning display of class when she beat five Dash defenders on her way to goal. She finished the season with 15 goals, 3 assists, the league MVP, and as a virtual shoo-in not to be left off the roster again for the 2016 Olympics.
Dunn made good on her expectations for 2016 with 14 goals for the national team. That included an Olympic goal against Colombia, and a team record-equaling five in an Olympic qualifier against Puerto Rico.
At the club level, Dunn has spent her three seasons in Washington showing off her versatility. As a rookie in 2014, Mark Parsons spent the season trying to get in her into attacking positions but was often forced to stick her at an outside back position to stabilize that third of the pitch. Dunn was a suitable fullback but her explosive MVP season showed that too many of her talents were being wasted back there.
This year, Dunn lost her scoring touch, partly because her prior pace was nearly impossible to keep up, and partly because the Spirit added several players capable of taking some of the burden off her shoulders. Instead of scoring, Dunn did everything else. She notched five assists, constantly drew defenders away from teammates, and worked relentlessly at both ends of the field. If there was any frustration with not scoring it rarely if ever showed, and it did not deter her from scoring for the U.S. or from notching a brace in the NWSL Championship.
Ellis still has yet to solidify a role for Dunn, which makes her 14 goals for the national team this year all the more remarkable. One thing is for sure, though: When the calendar turns over to 2017, Dunn will be firmly in the plans and it figures to be awhile before a healthy Crystal Dunn is left home for a major tournament.