Crystal Dunn leaves Washington Spirit to join Chelsea FC through 2018
Crystal Dunn (left) in attempt to score on the Portland Thorns. (Source: Don Ryan/AP Photo)

Today, the second ranked NWSL team, the Washington Spirit released the news of forward Crystal Dunn's decision to depart from the Spirit to play for European club team Chelsea Ladies FC. The Washington Spirit and the NWSL will be losing such a valuable asset as Dunn will not be participating in the 2017 NWSL season. According to Chelsea, Dunn will be with the English team through 2018.

Dunn's decision

In a press release, Dunn exposed her reasoning to leave by stating:

"It’s a big personal challenge for me but I am ready to take this next step in my career. Playing for Chelsea is a unique opportunity for me to take my game to another level, and I think the moment is right." 

She is currently signed to play with the European team until 2018. Her decision is more permanent than the recent signing of fellow USWNT member Alex Morgan, who signed with Lyon, but will return to he NWSL in June.

Head coach and General Manager Jim Gabarra of the Washington Spirit expressed his thoughts in Dunn's decision to depart from the team:

"On behalf of the entire Spirit organization and our fans, I want to thank Crystal for her years of commitment and outstanding performance. Of course it hurts to lose such a talented player, but this is professional sports, and every time there’s a roster spot open it creates opportunities for others.”

Dunn with the ball as she faces fellow USWNT teammate Becky Sauerbrunn. | Source: Washington Spirit

Awards with the Spirit

The Spirit had the first overall pick in the 2014 NWSL College Draft, where Dunn was invited to participate with the team.

In 2015, Dunn was awarded the NWSL Golden Boot, NWSL MVP, Washington Spirit Golden Boot, and Washington Spirit MVP. She also held six Player of the Week titles. On the pitch, she scored 15 goals during the season.

She scored her first international goal with the USWNT on September 17, but did not make the 2015 WWC roster for the team.

This past season, Dunn had five assists with a total of four goals for the Spirit.

Chelsea Ladies FC

The Chelsea Ladies Football Club is an English team that was established in 1992. The team is based in Fulham, England and has recently achieved the Championship title of the FA Women’s Super League

Manager Emma Hayes has previously coached American teams Chicago Red Stars and Western New York Flash in the leagues before NWSL.

On receiving Dunn as a member of the team, Hayes stated:

"Crystal is hands-down one of the best young players to have come through in the United States in recent years, we are really getting a top-quality player coming to England."