The National Women's Soccer League's offseason officially kicked off Thursday as the trade window closed and an epic three-team deal was announced between North Carolina Courage, OL Reign, and Portland Thorns FC. Portland acquired USWNT star Crystal Dunn in a trade with OL Reign for one international slot for 2021, their natural first-round pick in 2022, and whopping $250,000 in allocation money -- $50,000 of which is conditioned upon Dunn's future NWSL playing status.
The three-team deal saw Dunn make the trade journey from the North Carolina Courage, to OL Reign, to Portland and was a move that was finalized with Dunn currently in national team training camps with her USWNT teammates in Colorado. The trade will unite Dunn with fellow 2019 World Cup champions Lindsey Horan and Becky Sauerbrunn -- her backline counterpart during the tournament last summer.
Being reunited with Horan, is a welcomed change for Dunn, who says that during games between the Courage and Thorns, she was largely tasked with helping contain Horan on the pitch to minimize her impact. She's looking forward to playing alongside her.
"[Horan] is definitely a player that I feel like every time it was North Carolina versus Portland, [Paul Riley] would be like, 'All right, make sure Lindsey doesn't get on board, Crys,' " Dunn said in a call with reporters. " 'Wherever she goes, you know just make sure you just make it hard on her.' I'd spent the whole game where I'm like, I just want to be free, I want to do my thing, I don't wanna be worried about Lindsey obviously getting on the ball -- but now she'll be you know alongside me and I feel like my job will be a lot easier."
North Carolina and Portland have built a rivalry in the league in big playoff matches, with each side having won the NWSL championship against the other.
"There has been a huge rivalry between North Carolina and Portland Thorns and I think, you know, that's what makes this move obviously very interesting," Dunn said. "The beginning of my career I never thought I'd see myself playing for the Thorns. They were the team that everyone was like, 'Oh, they have everything so like you got to take them down,' you know?
"I think life works in mysterious ways and I think it's it's really cool to kind of wake up this morning and be like, you know, I'm playing for a team that I never thought that I'd play for."
Dunn is eager to be on a Thorns side where she'll be on the receiving end of an energized crowd, instead of as of rival. Dunn is looking forward to getting into a proper Thorns FC game-day environment.
"To be able to you know wear that jersey, and have the fans cheering my name now and cheering for me is going to be a really great feeling versus the opposite happening," she quipped. "I was always the one competing against them, and wanting to keep them out and that kind of thing -- but I'm looking forward to it. The environment has always energized me and made me feel like this is a proper, professional environment."