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Crystal Dunn completes journey back to USWNT after birth of son

Crystal Dunn gave birth to her first child in May. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Crystal Dunn is back with the U.S. women’s national team one year after her last appearance.

Dunn had been absent from the USWNT since last October. The defender played in the team’s friendlies against Paraguay in September 2021, but she opted out of the friendlies against South Korea the following month.

Her absence came with a good reason: She was pregnant with her first child, her son Marcel, who was born in May.

The 2021 Concacaf Player of the Year already made her NWSL return in early September for the league-leading Portland Thorns, less than four months after giving birth.

Dunn trained with the USWNT during the most recent international window in early September ahead of two friendlies against Nigeria. At that time, coach Vlatko Andonovski said Dunn was “ready to play” for the team.

“She’s as ready and as intense as she’s always been, and as enthusiastic as she’s always been,” Andonovski said. “She’s so energetic. I just love having Crystal back in camp and looking forward to see her in one of the next camps.”

On Thursday, Andonovski echoed his earlier sentiments and said the team is “excited” to have Dunn back in the fold.

“We had her as a training player in the last camp, and she looked as sharp as ever,” he said. “She looked quick, her numbers were great in terms of physical outputs and we’re looking forward to have her back now and available for selection.

“I have no doubt that Crystal will integrate back on this team very, very quick.”

Dunn’s presence at the September training camp should ease her adjustment to the roster, Andonovski said. She adds some depth that had been lost with veteran Kelley O’Hara out due to injury.

The 30-year-old plays on the backline for the USWNT but plays in the midfield for her NWSL club. And while the coach still sees Dunn as a defender for the national team, he left the door open for change.

While Dunn has been limited to a bench role so far for the Thorns, she recorded two shots in the team’s game against Racing Louisville on Sept. 21.

One of the faces of the USWNT, the 2019 World Cup champion returns to the team with a new outlook on life that is “just going to make me an even better player, and a better person,” she told Yahoo Sports.

“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,” she said.

For his part, Andonovski said he had no concerns about the USWNT’s ability to support Dunn as she embraces her new role as a mother.

“We do have a system and protocols in place to support the players to support the moms on the team,” said Andonovski. “We’ve done it for for a couple of years now, obviously with Alex [Morgan] being on the team. This is nothing new and our administration and support staff are tremendous in terms of supporting the players and giving them the best chance to be successful in the environment.”