NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Crystal Dunn was among the last cuts from the U.S. national team roster for the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.
That just made her all the more determined to get to France.
She’s been playing since she was in kindergarten, went on to play in high school and college, competed in the Olympics and is now going for the World Cup, reports CBSN New York’s Cindy Hsu.
To her former coaches and teammates, Dunn is a role model for young girls and incredibly modest.
“She actually hid that she played soccer from her closest friends, and I think that’s awesome,” said former teammate Mersina Onesto.
“It gave them a female role model that did well academically and a female role model who traveled the world – New Zealand and now she’s conquering the world on the football pitch,” said former soccer coach Patricia Beaumont.
Dunn joined the starting backline for the U.S. team alongside Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper and Kelley O’Hara.
“I’m just so excited to get into this World Cup so that I can no longer be known as that girl that didn’t make a World Cup,” she said, with a laugh.
The 26-year-old native New Yorker said the experience of getting cut has made her into the player she is today.
“I supported them (the 2015 team) along their journey, but I was able to reflect on myself and really just invest in who I wanted to be as a player. And I think just brushing myself off just helped me get to where I am now.”
While the 2015 team was traversing Canada en route to its third World Cup title, Dunn was back home in the National Women’s Soccer League and lighting it up. She had 15 goals for the Washington Spirit and was awarded the league’s Golden Boot.
She also played a season overseas in Chelsea before returning home and landing with the NWSL’s North Carolina Courage. Dunn is a midfielder for the Courage, which won last season’s NWSL title after a record-breaking season.
In the intervening four years, she also became a regular on the national team, earning a spot on the 2016 Olympic roster. She’s scored 24 goals in 84 appearances.
Dunn’s versatility is valued by coach Jill Ellis, who has at times moved her up to a more attacking role late in games when subs are made.
“She’s the most versatile player I’ve ever coached,” Ellis said. “It’s not just her ability to play in different lines, it’s the quality with which she plays in different lines, which is quite extraordinary.”
Dunn joked that there’s one position she’ll stay away from: “Keeper. That’s the only one that I refuse.”
“Yes, it is challenging at times,” she said about her shifting role. “I think I’ve been fortunate to actually be on this team where people help me. It’s not so much about, ‘You have to do this, this and this right in order to be the world’s best outside back.’ I think I’m always learning, I’m always trying to be at my best.”
This World Cup is all the more special for Dunn because her husband, Pierre Soubrier, was born in France and has family there.
A former player at Quinnipiac University, Soubrier is the head athletic trainer for the Portland Thorns — the team the Courage beat to win the title last season. Dunn and Soubrier married late last year.
“I always tell Pierre’s family that, obviously, the French side, it would be great for women’s soccer if they were to do well as the hosting country,” she said before the games began. “But of course not too well because we’re trying to win this thing.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)