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Crystal Dunn: USWNT position switch ‘doesn’t make me uncomfortable anymore’

Crystal Dunn plays in the midfield for the Portland Thorns, but she is an outside back for the USWNT. (John Todd/USSF/Getty Images)

Crystal Dunn isn’t holding out hope for a possible midfield appearance at the 2023 World Cup.

The 2019 World Cup champion plays as a defender for the U.S. women’s national team but as a midfielder for the Portland Thorns, and she spoke on the “Diaspora United” podcast about how playing two positions has affected her.

“I think my versatility has come with perspective, but it also comes with a lot of pain,” she told “Diaspora United.” “A lot of feeling of, you don’t belong any place on the field, you just belong where the coach puts you. And that doesn’t always feel great. I think I’ve always tried to hide away from saying that and being honest about that.”

But Dunn, 30, chose to open up about those feelings in a February profile for GQ. Becoming a mom to son Marcel last May helped give her the push to speak out.

“I feel so confident in what I’ve done in my career and who I am as a person that it’s now time for me to speak my truth,” she said. “Like I said, it’s not throwing shade on my position on the national team, because best believe when I am playing outside back I am bodying people out of the way and I’m doing what I have to do to be the best for my team.”

She gives her all wherever she plays on the field. But she also wants to be honest.

“I’m a competitor. Anywhere that I’m going to play, I’m going to play,” she said. “But the question wasn’t, ‘Do you love playing outside back?’ It was, ‘Where do you want to play? Where do you absolutely love playing?’ And my answer was in the midfield.

“I feel like my skill set is really about being creative, being fluid, being able to break lines, and being able to connect with the people around me. And I just feel like as an outside back I don’t really get to do that.”

Still, while Dunn has scored four goals for the Thorns so far this NWSL season, she doesn’t anticipate playing in the midfield for the USWNT at the World Cup this summer in Australia and New Zealand. And she accepts that.

“I don’t think there’s a real possibility. I think where I am is where I am. I think I accept and embrace it,” she said. “When I’m in club I try to ball out in the midfield. I try to do my thing. I don’t let my role on the national team hinder what I can contribute to my club team.

“It is a different boat that I’m in than any other player, because when you go from international duty to club you’re playing the same position usually… I think for me, that’s not my journey, that’s not my reality.”

As the World Cup approaches, she sees the power in her versatility.

“It’s just part of my journey. It makes me, me. It makes me special,” Dunn said. “When I was younger, I used to be a little bothered by it, but I think now I’ve stepped into this space where I’m like, no, this is me. This is a space not a lot of people get to walk in, and that’s OK. It doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable anymore. It makes me feel like this is actually my superpower.”