The Portland Thorns have acquired World Cup winner and former NWSL MVP Crystal Dunn in a series of moves that also involved the North Carolina Courage and OL Reign, the club announced on Thursday.
The Thorns acquired Dunn from OL Reign for $200,000 in allocation money, an international roster spot and a 2022 first-round pick.
That trade came after OL Reign acquired Dunn from two-time defending champion North Carolina in exchange for goalkeeper Casey Murphy and $140,000 in allocation money.
Dunn sought a move to Portland to be closer to her husband, Pierre Soubrier, who is the head athletic trainer for the Thorns. She said that while North Carolina management asked her to stay after she approached them about a move earlier this year, they acceded to her request and the two sides parted amicably.
"I think most people when they talk about getting traded or wanting to be traded, they are super unhappy and they want out and they're scratching and clawing," Dunn said. "And I think for my situation it was different. I spoke calmly to North Carolina earlier this year, just voicing that distance has been hard for me and my husband. Distance is one thing, but living on completely opposite sides of the country was really difficult. They understood, they accepted how I felt."
Dunn, 28, is one of the most versatile players in women's soccer, starting for the U.S. as an outside back en route to the team winning the 2019 World Cup but excelling as an attacking midfielder and forward in the NWSL. After missing out on the U.S. World Cup roster in 2015, she went on to win NWSL MVP honors that season with the Washington Spirit.
After playing overseas for Chelsea in 2017, she returned to the NWSL and earned all-league honors with North Carolina in 2018 and 2019. In all, she scored 15 goals and had nine assists in 35 appearances for the Courage, who won titles in both of her seasons with the team.
In Portland, Dunn is reunited with coach Mark Parsons, who coached her during her MVP campaign with Washington. Speaking from U.S. women's national team camp in Colorado on Friday, Dunn said she was looking forward to coming full circle in working with Parsons again. But she also made clear she prefers to remain in an attacking role in the NWSL, regardless of where she plays for the national team.
"I did voice to him that I don't really want to play in the back line," Dunn said. "So if he has that idea lined up, I'm like 'OK, well I'll deal with it.' But I think he knows that I definitely want to pursue an attacking role, and I think he can agree with me as well on that."
This marks the second time in less than a year that Portland has acquired a U.S. women's national team star because of that player's desire to relocate to the city. Portland also acquired Becky Sauerbrunn from Utah in March after the veteran defender indicated her interest in playing in the city in which she resides in the offseason.
The Thorns were on the other end of such a deal in 2015, when they traded forward Alex Morgan to then-expansion Orlando. That trade eventually led to midfielder Lindsey Horan joining the Thorns. Dunn and Horan are now the only former MVPs who are teammates.
Dunn is the second national team player to leave North Carolina in recent weeks, after midfielder Sam Mewis signed with Manchester City in the Women's Super League -- although, unlike in Dunn's case, the Courage retain Mewis' domestic rights.
OL Reign originally signed Murphy, 24, this past spring after the former Rutgers standout began her professional career playing in France's top division.
"Casey is a young, super talented goalkeeper," Courage head coach Paul Riley said in a statement. "She has a ton of fantastic qualities, and as she garners experience, we thoroughly expect her to be banging on the USWNT door. She comes to a team with a consistent, dynamic lineup, and that will help her settle and grow into a bonafide exceptional professional goalkeeper."