The Rockville Centre native’s NWSL rights have been acquired by North Carolina Courage from the Washington Spirit in exchange for Taylor Smith and Ashley Hatch. The Courage also acquired an international spot in the deal.
“I’m really excited to be back in an area that means so much to me,” said Dunn, who played her college ball at the University of North Carolina. “I know I am joining a great team and a club with an incredible history. I am just excited to get started and meet my new teammates.”
Dunn was selected as the first overall pick in the 2014 NWSL College Draft by Washington and made 22 appearances in her rookie season. She went on to become the youngest player to win the NWSL Golden Boot Award and Most Valuable Player award after she scored 15 goals during the 2015 season at age 23. Her new teammate, Lynn Williams, is the only other player to win both awards at 23 years old.
“Bringing Crystal back to NC has always been a goal of the franchise, and it’s incredible to see it come to fruition,” said Paul Riley, Courage head coach, who knows Dunn from their time together in Long Island youth soccer with the Albertson Fury.
“She is an outstanding player with bags of speed, desire and game-changing ability. It’s a massive year ahead for Crystal, and we hope we can be a big part of her continued development both in the NWSL and on the international stage.”
Dunn stood out in the 2016 NWSL Championship, scoring two goals in a match that concluded in a penalty-kick loss to the Western New York Flash (now NC Courage). Following the Spirit’s 2016 playoff run, Dunn took her talents to English FA Women’s Super League 1 club Chelsea L.F.C. where she made 11 appearances and scored three goals.
She has also become a fixture with the U.S. Women’s National Team and to date has made 57 appearances and scoring 22 goals since her first senior team cap with the United States in 2013.
Dunn is also a familiar face to the Triangle area of North Carolina where she was a collegiate standout at UNC-Chapel Hill from 2010-2013. During her junior year in 2012, she led the Tar Heels to a national championship in the NCAA College Cup, a tournament in which she scored five goals as a regular-season defender turned post-season attacking midfielder. Dunn went on to become the 2012 MAC Hermann Trophy winner, ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year. She preceded her 2012 accolades by becoming the first freshman to earn ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, making her the first player to win the award twice.