'Distance has been hard' - USWNT star Dunn explains reasons behind Portland trade request

Crystal Dunn NWSL
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After three seasons with the North Carolina Courage, the attacking midfielder completed a move to the Thorns last week

U.S. Women's National Team star Crystal Dunn has revealed that her move to Portland had been in the works for months after she was traded to the Thorns last week. 

Dunn spent three seasons with the North Carolina Courage, winning the NWSL championship in her first two seasons with the club, before the outbreak of Covid-19 made the 2020 campaign a disjointed affair, with the Challenge Cup tournament in the summer followed by a series of friendlies in the fall. 

Though Dunn achieved plenty of success on the field in North Carolina, she was in a difficult personal situation as her husband, Pierre Soubrier, has been serving as head athletic trainer for the Thorns. 

And on a call with reporters, the 28-year-old explained that she has been in frequent dialogue with the Courage over the challenging circumstances surrounding her marriage - and a potential move away to serve as a remedy. 

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“I spoke calmly to North Carolina earlier this year voicing that distance has been hard for me and my husband,” Dunn revealed. “Distance is one thing but living completely on the opposite side of the country is really difficult.

“North Carolina has been extremely supportive and that was really big for me. Most people, when they talk about wanting to be traded, they are super unhappy and they want out and they’re scratching and clawing and I think for my situation it was different.”

Dunn opted out of the NWSL’s fall series, looking to take advantage of an opportunity to have some down time with her husband in Portland.

And after the series of friendlies ended, the attacker says she again brought up the idea of a trade with the Courage.

“After the fall series is when I started to voice, ‘Hey can we make this happen? What do you think?’” Dunn said. 

“They've shown nothing but support and I'm so grateful that they handled it in the way that they did because of course they did voice that they wanted me to stay. 

“They were like, ‘We really really want you to stay but we understand that family is important and having balance in your life is extremely important as well.’”

Dunn has made her name in NWSL as an attacking midfielder, scoring 32 goals and providing 20 assists in 89 matches during her time in the league.

Though she is a natural attacker, Dunn has been deployed as a makeshift left back for the USWNT in recent years and starred in the 2019 World Cup, particularly in the latter stages, helping the U.S. win their second-straight title and fourth overall. 

Despite her ability to play in defense, Dunn said she made it clear to Thorns head coach Mark Parsons that she sees herself featuring in attack for her new team.

“I did voice to him that I don't really want to play in the back line,” Dunn admitted. “If he has that idea lined up, I'm like ‘OK, I'll deal with it,’ but I think he knows that I definitely want to pursue an attacking role and I think he can agree with me as well on that.”