Washington Spirit trades Crystal Dunn’s rights to North Carolina for 2 starters

spiritsoc141473302231 - Washington Spirit trades Crystal Dunn’s rights to North Carolina for 2 starters
Crystal Dunn, left, performed three seasons for the Washington Spirit (2014-16) earlier than transferring overseas to be part of London membership Chelsea final winter. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

U.S. nationwide crew attacker Crystal Dunn is planning to return to the National Women’s Soccer League after a yr in England, however as a substitute of including her again onto its roster, the Washington Spirit on Tuesday traded the 2015 MVP’s rights to the North Carolina Courage for nationwide crew defender Taylor Smith and 2017 rookie of the yr Ashley Hatch.

The Spirit had retained Dunn’s league rights after she signed with London membership Chelsea final winter. With teenage star Mallory Pugh coming into her second season and nationwide crew prospect Andi Sullivan pegged to arrive through the No. 1 draft decide Thursday, Washington apparently believes it might higher rebound from final yr’s last-place end by acquiring two confirmed starters in trade for Dunn. The Courage additionally acquired a global roster slot within the commerce.

Thirty minutes earlier than saying that blockbuster deal, the Spirit shipped Canadian nationwide crew ahead Lindsay Agnew and the No. 6 general decide to the Houston Dash for the No. three choice. Agnew, a 2017 second-round decide from Ohio State, made eight appearances (two begins) final yr.

gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Washington Spirit trades Crystal Dunn’s rights to North Carolina for 2 startersTaylor Smith (USSF)

Smith, a 24-year-old proper again from UCLA, has earned seven U.S. caps (4 begins) since debuting in July and appears heading in the right direction to earn a spot on the 2019 Women’s World Cup squad. She began two years for the NWSL’s 2016 champions and 2017 finalists. Before rising to the senior nationwide crew, Smith was an everyday with the under-17, U-20 and U-23 squads.

“Taylor has developed into one of the best right backs in the NWSL,” mentioned Jim Gabarra, the Spirit’s head coach and common supervisor. “She has performed very well both with the national team and the Courage and has been part of winning teams her entire career. She will be a difference-maker for us.”

Hatch, a 22-year-old ahead, scored seven objectives in 24 matches final yr. While nonetheless at Brigham Young, she debuted for the U.S. senior crew in October 2016 however hasn’t performed internationally since.

Dunn, 25, was the Spirit’s first general decide within the 2014 draft and, a yr later, led the league in scoring (15 objectives in 21 matches) whereas solidifying her place on the nationwide crew. In 2016, whereas shuttling between the Spirit and the Olympic-bound U.S. squad, she helped Washington attain the NWSL remaining for the primary time.

Amid the Spirit’s off-field turmoil, nevertheless, she determined to enterprise overseas and have become one of many few American girls to signal a multiyear deal abroad. (Several have had short-term stints.) Her contract, although, included choices to return early, and with the nationwide crew turning consideration in 2018 to two high-caliber mini-tournaments and World Cup qualifying, she apparently felt it needed to play within the NWSL once more this season.

In all competitions over two seasons at Chelsea, Dunn made 20 appearances (12 begins) and scored 5 objectives. Chelsea gained the spring championship final yr.

“I’m really excited to be back in an area that means so much to me,” mentioned Dunn, who starred on the University of North Carolina. “I am just excited to get started and meet my new teammates.”

Dunn, Smith and Sullivan are at U.S. coaching camp in Carson, Calif., forward of Sunday’s pleasant towards Denmark in San Diego. Dunn has scored 22 objectives in 57 worldwide matches. Last yr, she posted 4 objectives in 12 appearances.

The commerce comes two days earlier than the Spirit is nearly sure to draft Sullivan with the No. 1 general decide. Earlier this month, the central midfielder from Lorton, Va., (South County High, McLean Youth Soccer) gained the Hermann Trophy as school soccer’s finest participant after guiding Stanford to its second nationwide championship. She has performed seven occasions for the nationwide crew and, like Smith and Pugh, seems very a lot in U.S. Coach Jill Ellis’s long-term plans.

Absent for weeks from the draft eligibility checklist, Sullivan was anticipated to signal a nationwide crew contract this week and turn out to be eligible for choice.

The NWSL has but to launch the 2018 schedule, although on Tuesday it introduced coaching camps will open Feb. 19 and the season will kick off March 24-25. Each crew will once more play 24 matches, culminating Sept. Eight-9. The semifinals are slated for Sept. 14-16 and the ultimate Sept. 22. Lifetime will once more present a match each Saturday.

The Spirit is probably going to open the season on the street and make its house debut at Maryland SoccerPlex the second weekend.

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