The NC Courage have made a blockbuster trade as they prepare to defend their 2017 NWSL Shield title. In a move that sends defender Taylor Smith and forward Ashley Hatch to the Washington Spirit, the Courage have acquired the rights to USWNT forward Crystal Dunn and an international slot. Smith started 20 games in defense for a team that allowed only 22 goals in 24 games while Hatch won Rookie of the Year while scoring 7 goals, matching the NWSL rookie record.
Head coach Paul Riley coached Dunn in her youth club the Albertson Fury. He said of the striker, “She is an outstanding player with bags of speed, desire and game changing ability. It’s a massive year ahead for Crystal, and we hope we can be a big part of her continued development both in the NWSL and on the international stage. She is eager to get started, meet her new team and add to our young, talented squad.”
Dunn returns to the NWSL after spending 2017 playing in England for Chelsea LFC where she played in 11 games and netted three goals. In a statement released by the club, Dunn noted, “I’m really excited to be back in an area that means so much to me. I know I am joining a great team and a club with an incredible history. I am just excited to get started and meet my new teammates.”
NC Courage fans should be particularly excited for what this means for the team’s attack. A potential front three of Dunn, Lynn Williams, and Jess McDonald would certainly be the best in NWSL. Last year the team moved away from its high flying 2016 style of trying to outscore opponents and were a team that was difficult to breakdown that was very adept at keeping a lead. Dunn may be the missing piece that saw the team win NWSL Shield only to be shutout in the NWSL Championship and lose 1-0 to the Portland Thorns.