Portland Thorns

Crystal Dunn feeling pressure and lack of appreciation as a woman of color for the USWNT

Portland Thorns

Portland Thorns FC defender and U.S. women's soccer star Crystal Dunn is set to appear in her second Summer Olympics.

She is one of the best in the world at her craft.

Here are just a few of her accolades:

  • Dunn won five separate Player of the Year awards including the New York Gatorade Player of the Year award. Along with winning the 2012 NCAA Championship with UNC, Dunn was named the country’s best collegiate player as the winner of the prestigious Hermann Trophy.
  • She was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Defender and Player of the Year in 2012.
  • She earned the 2015 NWSL Golden Boot, a spot on the NWSL Best XI and the league’s MVP award at age 23 – the youngest player ever to win the NWSL MVP.
  • She won the NWSL title with North Carolina in 2018 and 2019.
  • She helped the USWNT win the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.

And now with the Thorns she continues to lead the charge.

The winger previously played for Washington Spirit, Chelsea and North Carolina Courage.

Even as she continues to become a bigger and bigger Women’s soccer star, she hasn’t been fully appreciated.

Dunn opened up about facing common problems that Black women encounter in a recent interview with Mariah Lee of The Undefeated.

“I feel like someone has dimmed my light in a sense,” Dunn told The Undefeated.


As the article notes, Black women are supported lesscompensated less and protected less and the world of women’s soccer is no exception.

For Dunn, she explained how she feels that she receives less publicity compared with her contemporaries, and fewer endorsement deals.

Many have wondered why the now 29-year-old did not earn a spot on the 2015 national team.

The U.S. coaching staff said that Dunn didn’t "fit" what they were looking for in 2015

Dunn and Rachel Van Hollebeke were the last players to get cut from the team. 

United States women's national soccer team Jill Ellis told The Equalizer in 2015 that “both of them were incredibly professional. They understood the process, understood how competitive it was and they were a class act, both of them. It was an extremely tough decision, because they both offer different things to their positions and it really coming down to what I was looking for.”

But now six years later, Dunn is still looking for change for dark-skinned Black women.

“I think as a woman of color on this team, especially a dark-skinned woman, I’ve always felt pressure,” Dunn said. “I think I am now currently in a position where I am feeling more valued, but for a large part of my career, no… We need to feel like we can exist in a space that may not have been set up for us to exist in.”