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Crystal Dunn heading to Chelsea, won’t play for Spirit in ’17

Crystal Dunn holds her new Chelsea Ladies shirt. The 2015 NWSL Most Valuable Player is heading to England. (photo: Chelsea Ladies)

Crystal Dunn holds her new Chelsea Ladies shirt. The 2015 NWSL Most Valuable Player is heading to England. (photo: Chelsea Ladies)

2015 NWSL MVP Crystal Dunn is on her way to Chelsea Ladies and is not expected to play for the Washington Spirit in 2017. Her contract with Chelsea runs through 2018.

Dunn joins U.S. national team compatriot Alex Morgan as prominent players making moves to Europe. Morgan is set to join Lyon this month but is due back in Orlando in June. Dunn however, will not be in the league at all this year. “I will not be in the NWSL in 2017,” Dunn told The Washington Post

“On behalf of the entire Spirit organization and our fans, I want to thank Crystal for her years of commitment and outstanding performance,” Spirit general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra said in a statement.

{LAULETTA: What Morgan to Lyon means for all involved}

Losing Dunn is the latest blow in what has been a difficult offseason for the Spirit. After riding Dunn’s brace to the brink of NWSL Championship glory before losing on a late equalizer and penalty kicks, the club has seen Dunn, Ali Krieger, Christine Nairn, and Megan Oyster depart. Also, goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe has hinted she will not return either. The club did acquire Kristie Mewis and Kassey Kallman in a trade with the Breakers and it holds the top spot in the allocation ranking.

“Of course it hurts to lose such a talented player, but this is professional sports, and every time there’s a roster spot open it creates opportunities for others.”

Dunn was the top overall pick in the 2014 NWSL draft out of North Carolina. After being left off the World Cup roster in 2015 she went on a tear, scoring 15 goals to lead the league and earn MVP honors. Her scoring dropped off for the Spirit in 2016 but she was part of the U.S. Olympic roster after scoring a team-record equaling give goals in a qualifying match.

“I have only been to London once before but there is something that grabbed me about Chelsea. The whole family culture – the unity, the morale – is making it feel just like home,” Dunn said in her introductory release from Chelsea Ladies. “I’m excited because Chelsea has a large fanbase and their relationship with the men’s team alone is just incredible. I’m looking forward to the games and to seeing all the fans who come out and support and hopefully we can all help add to the growth of women’s football in England.

“I’m going to give my all. It would be a dream to play in the Champions League and I am ready to help out the team in any way. I’m excited to join my new team-mates and join forces with them.”

Chelsea Ladies are out of this year’s Champions League having fallen to Wolfsburg in the Round of 32.


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