While every athlete that played in the 2015 Women’s World Cup came closer to hoisting the trophy than any regular fan or critic, one player who didn’t play in the tournament may have come the closest without ever stepping foot on the pitch.
In 2015 Crystal Dunn was the last player to be cut from the United States Women’s National Team, the 24th person on a roster that only had 23 spots. The team would then go on to win their third Women’s World Cup title. She was even added to the roster for the World Cup Victory tour, despite having never actually played in the tournament.
In their first match against Haiti, she assisted two of Carli Lloyd’s goals, and scored her first national team goal in the closing minutes. It was sign that mistakes were made, and they were going to be corrected. It wasn’t the last time she’d produce in a big way either.
Crystal Dunn currently has 24 international goals to her name, 12 of them occurred during a hot streak of 2016. That year, against Puerto Rico she scored five goals alone while sharing the field with the likes of Alex Morgan, Mallory Pugh, and Christen Press.
She knows her role in the team and plays it well, “I’m in the back line, so I have to be scrappy and kind of get stuck in these tackles.”
She also knows that 2019 is her moment. At 26 she has at best, one more chance at a World Cup, and she isn’t planning on waiting four more years.
When asked about her plan is going into France this summer, she’s crystalline, “Feeling free, and being creative on the field.”