Friday, December 2 2022

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Crystal Dunn made her NWSL return Friday night. Dunn was back in action after giving birth to her son, Marcel, less than four months prior.

“It was such a long journey. I have never been out that long,” Dunn said after a 2-0 victory against the Orlando Pride. “Honestly, it was about patience and trusting the journey and being grateful for giving birth to a happy, healthy journey.”

Dunn received a roaring ovation upon entering the match, coming off the bench in the 86th minute and replacing Sophia Smith.


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Prior to making her first 2022 NWSL appearance, Dunn spent time with the United States women’s national soccer team ahead of their friendly matches against Nigeria.

The Thorns have missed her on-field presence. In 2021, Dunn appeared in 15 games, including making three starts in the Challenge Cup. The Thorn defeated NJ/NY Gotham FC in penalty kicks to capture the Challenge Cup Championship.

Thorns head coach Rhian Wilkinson was happy to have Dunn back in the lineup. She mentioned how the team will continue to help in her return.

Sep 9, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Portland Thorns FC midfielder Crystal Dunn (19) plays the ball with Orlando Pride midfielder Thais Reiss (30) defending during the second half at Exploria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsSep 9, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Portland Thorns FC midfielder Crystal Dunn (19) plays the ball with Orlando Pride midfielder Thais Reiss (30) defending during the second half at Exploria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Portland Thorns FC midfielder Crystal Dunn (19) plays the ball with Orlando Pride midfielder Thais Reiss (30) defending during the second half at Exploria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

“Every woman that comes back from having a child has a different journey,” Wilkinson told reporters. “It’s just making sure we are doing the right thing by Crystal and making sure we are taking care of her.”

Dunn shared her pregnancy journey on her social media platforms. She added a heartwarming Instagram post with the caption, “gameday looks a little bit different.”

Marcel was in attendance to watch his mom in action. The World Champion celebrated with him as both shared kisses and took in the special moment.


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“This is a big step,” Dunn said. “There is a lot that I want to continue pushing for and helping the team this year win the (NWSL) Shield and compete in the championship. I am just grateful for the opportunity to do so.”

The Thorns are back in action against the Kansas City Current Sept. 18. Portland currently sits atop the NWSL standings with 31 points.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USWNT star returns less than four months after giving birth

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