The North Carolina Courage just won its second consecutive National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) championship, but the commanding victory may have come at a steep price for both the Cary-based club and the US Women's National Team (USWNT).
North Carolina forward Crystal Dunn — who started in all six of the USWNT's World Cup contests this summer — suffered what appeared to be a nasty ankle injury during her team's 4-0 NWSL championship victory over the Chicago Red Stars Sunday afternoon.
The injury came in the title game's 61st minute, not long after Dunn knocked one into the back of the net in stoppage time to send the Courage to the locker room with a commanding 3-0 halftime lead. The 27-year-old was challenging Red Stars defender Sarah Gorden from behind when she planted her right foot atop Gorden's cleat and rolled her ankle.
Dunn stayed on her feet and took a few steps before grabbing at her leg and lowering herself to the turf. After receiving a few minutes of medical attention on the field, she made her way over to the closest sideline and called it quits for the remainder of the contest.
The notoriously tough player has rarely taken time away from the pitch to nurse an injury over the course of her career. In fact, during this weekend's festivities leading up to the NWSL title game, Dunn said as much while describing her exhaustion from balancing national team and Courage responsibilities this year.
"It's a blessing to be healthy, but I will say I've been healthy going on four years," she said. "And I have not had a rest in four years I feel like."
Although the 2020 NWSL season doesn't kick off for many months, the USWNT is scheduled to take on rival Sweden — who knocked out the red, white, and blue in the 2016 Olympic semifinal — in Columbus, Ohio, November 7 before traveling to Jacksonville, Florida, to face Costa Rica three days later.
Given that Dunn arrived at Sunday's postgame media availability donning a boot on her right foot, it appears as though the USWNT may have to play its final friendlies of the year without its starting left-back. It'll be one of many challenges facing whoever US Soccer selects to replace Jill Ellis at the front of the bench heading into an Olympic year. The federation is set to announce its decision Monday, but reports from various outlets has indicated it will be NWSL coach of the year and Seattle Reign front man Vlatko Andonovski.