Dunn makes Chelsea switch

Dunn makes Chelsea switch

American international joins the Staines based club.

Sophie Lawson

Explosive winger, Crystal Dunn has opted for a change of pace, switching the NWSL for WSL, making Chelsea her new club.

Young promise

Well decorated and known to many around the globe already, Dunn has worked her way through the USWNT youth system before making her senior bow in 2013. More peripheral for her first few years, Dunn has become a stable member of Jill Ellis’ squad and enjoyed racking up the caps in 2016.

Having cut her teeth with her high school team, Dunn was an ever present in the team that won the New York State Championship all three years she was part of the team, with a glut of goals and assists it was clear the attacker was due for bound things.

Her performances bringing in a wealth of accolades, scooping New York Gatorade High School Player of the Year in 2009, among others like the New York Sportswriters Class A Player of the Year and the Mike Clark Award given to the best all-around athlete in Nassau County.

Her move to the University of North Carolina only prompted more silverware and star performances as a Tar-Heel. Whilst at university juggling her playing commitments with a sociology degree, Dunn was still firing on all cyclinders for her country, capped at the 2012 U20 Women’s World Cup before returning home and helping UoNC to a NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship win, putting in a particularly memorable performance in the quarter-final.

After completing her degree, Dunn had the honour of being the first over-all draft pick ahead of the 2014 season. Snapped up by Washington Spirit, Dunn repaid her team on the pitch, firing them into the championship play-offs although the Spirit were unable to progress past the semi-finals.

Dunn was back in fine fettle for the 2015 season, her goals once again catching the eye as she fired her way to the NWSL Golden Boot and MVP double. Although less influential directly in front of goal during the 2016 season, Dunn still continued to create and offer plenty out wide for the Spirit, a brace in the Championship final not quite enough for her team as they succumbed on penalties.

A big challenge

With no major tournaments coming up for the USWNT until 2019, Dunn has followed in the footsteps of many of her predecessors, opting for a new challenge in Europe whilst she has no pressing commitments back home. When talking about the move to Chelsea’s website, Dunn expressed her desire to grow her game, highlighting Chelsea as a club that can help her “take her game to another level”, the move coming at just the right time.

Three and a half thousand miles from her home in Long Island, Dunn was drawn in by the family feel at Chelsea, lauding the “unity” and “morale” at the club, as well as the strong links to the men’s team, hoping to help aid the growth of the women’s game in England.

Already looking forward to getting out on the pitch with Chelsea and “joining forces” with new team mates, Dunn will have plenty of time to adjust to the WSL with the upcoming Spring Series ahead of the 2017-18 season and the guarantee of UEFA Women’s Champions League football.

Chelsea boss, Emma Hayes was quick to praise her marquee signing, declaring Dunn to be “one of the best” players to have worked her way through the ranks in America in recent years. Nodding towards Dunn’s many accolades such as her Hermann Trophy win and her experience within the NWSL, Hayes is certain the Blues have got a special player who’ll bolster the growth of the league as well as the Chelsea squad.

Described by her new coach as, “incredibly dynamic” and “absolutely devastating” when she’s in the final third, another highly talented one-on-one player, Dunn can “tear teams to shreds”. A player of “world-class quality”, Hayes couldn’t be happier with the move that will see Dunn at Chelsea until 2018.