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Thorns coach: Crystal Dunn’s speedy return shouldn’t pressure other moms

Thorns midfielder Crystal Dunn celebrates scoring a goal with teammates during Portland's semifinal match. (Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports)

Crystal Dunn continued her improbable comeback Sunday with a stoppage time goal to send the Portland Thorns to the NWSL championship.

Dunn, who gave birth in May, came on as a substitute in the 60th minute. The 30-year-old has spoken frequently about her journey back to the pitch after her pregnancy. She returned to the Thorns in September and to the USWNT earlier this month against England.

“I think being away from the game for so long really has allowed me to build back myself in a way that I’ve never been able to do,” Dunn told Yahoo Sports ahead of the team’s matchup. She’s also spoken about her new perspective on the game since giving birth.

Still, while Dunn has made a triumphant return, Thorns coach Rhian Wilkinson wants players to take their own journeys at their own pace after pregnancies.

“I don’t also want other mothers in the league to now think they’ve got to do what Crystal Dunn did,” Wilkinson said Sunday. “It is incredible what she did. But it was done very carefully with a lot of very, very skilled people supporting her return to play.

“Unless you’ve had a child — I can’t speak to it. What I can say is that I tried my best to make everything possible for her and just see how she adapted, because some women might be like Crystal Dunn and some might need a year and a half.”