Crystal Dunn opened up in a profile for GQ Sports recently, sharing how difficult the transition is from midfield to the defensive position when she plays for the U.S. women’s national team.
“It’s been a massive burden on me to switch who I am given the team that I play for, and it’s something that I only go through,” she said. “I think it’s hard because I’m the only one who has to do it. I step into camp, and I feel like I lose a part of myself. I no longer get to be Crystal who scores goals, assists, is this attacking player.”
Dunn says playing defense is something that she’s “owned” and created in her own “most authentic way.”
“But I don’t love it. I love playing and I love competing, so that brings me up to the level that I need to be at, but it really is hard when I look around and I’m like, Well, no one else has to do this. I am the only person who does not stay put in one position and always has to change given what my coach thinks of me,” she said.
While Dunn says she tries to take it as a compliment of her abilities, it still hurts at times.
“If I believe I’m good at this one thing, why doesn’t my coach think I’m good at that one thing? Why would he or she move me?” she continued. “There are years that go by where I’ve owned it, I’m doing positive thinking about it, and then there’s moments where I’m like, I don’t think I could do another day of this.”
She says it was at the end of 2021 that she was “pushing that limit” and needed a break from feeling like she “wasn’t good enough, feeling like I’m always having to earn my right onto the field.”
“She is a world-class left back and that she can also be a world class 8, 10, wherever you wanna throw her,” teammate Becky Sauerbrunn said. “I can’t name many players in the world in the women’s game that can do something like that. She’s not out of position anywhere. Anywhere she wants to play, she’s in position.”
Still, Dunn believes that in her own abilities, she would be better in an attacking role.
“I feel like I could be that much better as a center mid, or as a forward, but I have to split half of my season to outside back,” Dunn said. “Or I could be such a better outside back, but I don’t play outside back in the league. I constantly feel like I’m losing a piece of myself wherever I have to commit my energy and time to.”