- Crystal Dunn scored a 93rd-minute game-winner to send the Portland Thorns to the NWSL Championship.
- The 30-year-old USWNT superstar is just five months removed from giving birth to her first child.
- Dunn’s son, Marcel, was in the stands to witness his mom’s first goal of his young lifetime.
Just five months after giving birth to her first child and a mere six weeks since making her return to the pitch, Crystal Dunn was exactly the hero the Portland Thorns needed.
The women’s soccer superstar and US Women’s National Team staple scored a beautiful goal in stoppage time of Portland’s Sunday afternoon semifinal matchup against Alex Morgan and the San Diego Wave, clinching the Thorns’ spot in the National Women’s Soccer League Championship.
“It’s really hard for me to process that five months ago I gave birth and worked my way back to be available for these last couple of games,” Dunn said in the postgame press conference. “But I really don’t feel like I took that much time away from soccer. For me, I was always in the locker room with the girls; I was nine months pregnant showing up. Everyone was like, ‘What are you doing? Go home! You should not be here.’
“But for me, it was always about just enjoying being an athlete, even if I’m not competing at this moment,” she added. It meant me still connecting with my teammates and supporting them every step of the way. It’s a big reason why I just have felt supported, and I wanted to show the support in return to my teammates for just allowing me to be part of the journey.”
Now, thanks to Dunn’s right foot, that journey continues. The 30-year-old’s stunning 93rd-minute strike — which she rocketed from the top of the 18-yard box into the upper-90 of the net — sent the Portland players and supporters in the stands into an absolute frenzy.
—National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) October 23, 2022
—National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) October 24, 2022
Best of all, Dunn’s newborn son was among the 22,035 fans — the second-largest crowd in NWSL playoff history — at Providence Park. Baby Marcel was on hand to see his mom score her first goal at the Thorns’ home stadium — and the first goal of his young lifetime.
“I always wanted to end this year the best way that I could, and to me, that was working extremely hard to get back onto the pitch,” Dunn said. “Even if I was only available for one game this year, it would’ve been worth it.
“It’s not easy, but stepping off the field and being able to hold my child is exactly why I did all this,” she added.
Dunn and her teammates will head to Washington, DC to face the Kansas City Current in Saturday night’s championship game at Audi Field. Portland — a perennial powerhouse in the NWSL — will look to take home the franchise’s third title and its first since 2017.
Fans can tune in on CBS at 9 p.m. ET.