Thorns FC

Mark Parsons details how Portland Thorns FC plans to use Crystal Dunn

Thorns FC

In an offseason full of movement, no acquisition increased Portland's ceiling more than trading for Crystal Dunn

[RELATED]: Portland Thorns FC are contenders in 2021 with the acquisition of Crystal Dunn

In October 2020, the franchise announced it had traded for the USWNT wing-back and 2015 NWSL Most Valuable Player in exchange for allocation money, an international roster spot for the 2021 season and Portland’s natural first-round pick in the 2022 NWSL College Draft.

Now with preseason training camp beginning Tuesday afternoon, Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons detailed how he plans to use "massive, massive addition."

"She has to be in the attacking areas for us," explained Parsons. "The way we played last year, we could fit her into three or four different positions whether it's midfield or front lines.

We'll have to see how the team comes together. I think we're more evolved from last year but having her as often in the attacking third and between lines, being able to break behind lines, getting her able to face up on the ball is what Crystal Dunn's all about.

Portland Thorns FC coach Mark Parsons

The 28-year-old Dunn is still in her prime years and her career speaks for itself: NWSL MVP and Golden Boot winner in 2015, back-to-back NWSL Champion in 2018 and 2019, NWSL Best XI in 2015 and 2018, NWSL Second XI in 2016 and 2019. 

She scored 30 goals and recorded 16 assists in her 94-game career with the Washington Spirit and North Carolina Courage before arriving in the Rose City. 

"Creating, scoring goals is I think what makes her tick and I'm excited to have her in those areas of the field for us," added Parsons.

The Portland head coach expects the veteran to elevate the standard in Portland as well and help get the best out of each player on the roster due to Dunn's leadership off the pitch.


"Off the field, she's an incredible personality and leader," said Parsons. "Her standards [as a leader] are really, really high and she never drops them. It's always all-in, it's 100%, it's high-energy, it's in your face, it's attack the day, attack the session, attack the game, attack everyone, let's go. Nothing less.  

But the addition of Dunn is not the only reason Parsons cannot wait for the 2021 NWSL Season. He looks to build upon a 2020 campaign that saw his young team upset the defending champions in the NWSL Challenge Cup and then win the 2020 NWSL Fall Series. 

"I'm pumped. I'm probably most excited about the dynamic about our group as I've ever been." 

As far as other new additions, Parsons said he expects rookies Yazmeen Ryan (6th overall pick, 2021) and Hannah Betfort  (37th overall pick, 2021) to report in April or May while Sam Coffey (12th overall, 2021) and Amirah Ali (22nd overall, 2021) will not join the team until January 2022. 

Parsons also said the Thorns are bringing in undrafted goalkeeper Shelby Hogan from Providence with an expected arrival date of February 6th or 7th. As a three-year starter in college, Hogan was named to the All-BIG EAST First Team (2018), BIG EAST All-Tournament Team (2018, 2019) and won All-BIG EAST Co-Freshman of the Year (2017).