On the new episode of the Planet Fútbol Podcast, we interview Crystal Dunn, the recent U.S. Women's World Cup champion who is back to playing for the defending NWSL champion North Carolina Courage. The Courage are in the stretch run of the NWSL regular season and on Thursday meet Manchester City in the semifinals of the ICC tournament (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+).
You can listen to the full episode in the podcast console below and subscribe to and download the Planet Fútbol Podcast on iTunes. Recent guests include legendary SI photographer Simon Bruty to discuss his career and shooting iconic soccer moments; SI's Laken Litman to talk about all the post-World Cup news surrounding the USWNT; ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter to talk about his complicated role in women's soccer; USWNT world champions Rose Lavelle and Abby Dahlkemper; and five members of the 1994 USMNT World Cup team looking back on their squad 25 years later.
Here are some of the standout exchanges in the interview:
SI.com: Are you hoping the new [USWNT] coach might ask you to play more of your natural position higher up the field?
Dunn: That would be hard to say off the bat, just because I have no idea if the new coach is going to come in with a new formation or style of play or anything like that. For me, I've always been the player who just wants to fit and mold in with the team, so I feel like at this point in my career, yes, I do want to play more of an attacking role, but only if it makes sense, only if it makes me feel like I'm going to be able to be at my best. So I'll be competitive … every single camp leading to the Olympics, but I think for me it's just about really trying to be at my best. And whichever position I'm placed in, I'll compete and always try and strive to be at the highest level.
SI.com: Your North Carolina coach Paul Riley is viewed as one of the top candidates for the national team job. For listeners out there who may not know that much about him what have you learned about how Riley does his job?
Dunn: Paul is so passionate about the game, the way he is able to break down games and just create and develop new ideas on how he wants us to play and what our style of play is going to look like. I think that shows how much he dedicates his time to our development and our performances. He's somebody that believes in player 1 to 23, and I think that's important sometimes. Coaches can get carried away with just their starting 11 or the two or three players they might use [as subs] in the game, but I think he takes time to encourage players that might not be getting a lot of playing time. And I really love that, because I think for anyone who's ever been a player that's not a starter or who doesn’t dress from time to time, it's important to feel like you are valued still and still want to give your all to a team that respects and cares for you. I think that's why our team is so unique, that players who are not able to perform on the field or get playing time are the ones that are actually helping those that are starting and getting playing time to perform and be their best self.
SI.com: When you look back on this 2019 World Cup title, what are you going to remember the most?
Dunn: Honestly, I just remember the journey. I think it's funny, because all of the sudden, in the blink of an eye, we win and it's great it's an amazing feeling. You feel the weight off your shoulders, the pressure of winning a gold medal, but then you look back and say wow, all the things you've gone through to get to that point is actually what you remember most about it. For me, obviously, my journey from 2015 [when she missed the World Cup roster] until 2019 was all about continuously believing in myself and just figuring out what I wanted to be as a player and just going off of that and everyday working so hard to make sure that I made that roster. I think that is what I'm going to really cherish the most, it's just the grit I had to show every single day to continuously prove myself day in and day out why I belong on the team—and then looking back feeling like I was a key player to our success.