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NWSL May Player of the Month: Crystal Dunn does it all for Portland

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Crystal Dunn scored three goals for the Portland Thorns in May. (Abe Arredondo/USA TODAY Sports)

We’re nearing the halfway point of the 2023 NWSL season after a topsy-turvy month of May. The league saw a number of imbalanced scorelines, but no single player took a definitive lead in the Golden Boot race — or in the Player of the Month race, which had a number of worthy contenders.

With defenses across the NWSL still working on their cohesion, most of the top performers in May were those generating attacking chances, with quite a few coming from teams still on the upswing in the league table.

However, our regular season Player of the Month for May is likely a name well known to many.

Crystal Dunn, M, Portland Thorns

The 30-year-old had one of the best scoring months of her career in the Portland midfield in May, scoring three goals and registering an assist. She finished the month in a tie for first place in the 2023 Golden Boot race with five on the season.

A high-efficiency scorer, Dunn converted on 100% of her shots on goal this month in performances against the North Carolina Courage and the Chicago Red Stars. Her brace against the Courage kept the Thorns in a match that ultimately ended 3-3, picking up a crucial point to land Portland tied for second place in the NWSL standings at the end of the month with 16 points.

Dunn also has been active in ways more nuanced than her scoring and assisting output. She sits in second for field players in American Soccer Analysis’ goals added (g+) estimation for the month of May on the strength of her receiving and shooting abilities. She also sits in the top 10 for individual xG created this month despite only registering eight total shots. And while the Portland defense has had its struggles this month, the attack has kept cooking, sitting on a goal differential of +12.

Honorable mentions

Savannah DeMelo, M, Racing Louisville

DeMelo was in a dead heat with Dunn for May’s top honor, proving essential for Louisville in all competitions despite only scoring one goal and notching one assist in regular season play. The 25-year-old has been one of the best attacking generators in the league this month, leading the NWSL in xG + xA (goal and assist chance creation).

Kailen Sheridan, GK, San Diego Wave

Sheridan is known as one of the NWSL’s most elite shot-stoppers, but in May she was one of the league’s greatest passing threats as well. She also led the league’s goalkeepers in g+, conceding only four goals on 24 shots faced, which leaves San Diego tied for second place in the league standings.

Adriana, F, Orlando Pride

The Pride saw their best stretch of play in May, going undefeated in three regular season games before a very unlikely loss to the Chicago Red Stars to end the month. Orlando has passed around scoring honors and become stingy in defense, but Adriana’s contributions on and off the ball have stuck out as both a dribbler and a defensive disruptor from the attack.