Veteran Crystal Dunn: A genuine jack of all trades

The 31-year-old defender has made powerful case for inclusion on Olympic roster
USWNT's Crystal Dunn celebrates vs South Korea
USWNT's Crystal Dunn celebrates vs South Korea / David Berding/USSF/GettyImages

Crystal Dunn, a Swiss army knife for USWNT

Let's paint the scene. You're asked to start against Korea at forward, a position you haven't played for the national team in seven years. You score 13 minutes into said game. Your name is Crystal Dunn, and you've likely just secured your spot on the 2024 Olympic roster.

When taking a look at the complete picture of Dunn's Tuesday performance, it lacked the full breadth of magic I know she's capable of. However, over the course of 90 minutes, she played right winger, left back, scored the game-winning goal, and the team conceded none, so if that's what's accomplished in a middle-of-the-road day at the office you're sitting pretty.

Dunn finds herself in a unique position playing for her former Chelsea coach-turned-USWNT coach who has targeted her as a player with the potential to excel on both offense and defense heading into the final match before Olympic roster selection.

Adaptability is key for Olympics

Olympic rosters are brutally small. Only 18 players make the cut. As a result, versatility is key. If you can excel in multiple positions, you're indispensable.

With well-timed tackles, a willingness to put her body on the line, and a hunger for goal, Dunn is making a powerful case for her indispensability.

And in this era of out with the old, in with the new, dominated by a (welcome) youthful creativity and vivacity, a veteran with Olympic experience who's still pulling her weight, is both rare and valuable.

Dunn's insertion into the forward line however stirs the pot. The USWNT has a wealth of world class options up top. And many of them have developed a well-oiled working relationship between themselves and with play-making midfielders like Rose Lavelle, long before head coach Emma Hayes chose to experiment with Dunn in the mix.

But with Hayes arriving at the 11th hour with only two games to analyze the team and make her final selections, veterans with their extensive portfolio of work and former Chelsea players might have a leg up.

That being said, I don't take Hayes as someone to shy away from bold decisions. She's been brought in because what existed wasn't working and she can look at the team with fresh eyes and a vision for the future.


What does seem to be working right out of the gate in the Emma Hayes era? Crystal Dunn, on the field, literally anywhere but goalkeeper.