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Long Island in NWSL: Crystal Dunn thriving in forward role for Courage early in season

Crystal Dunn #19 of the USA plays in

Crystal Dunn #19 of the USA plays in the 2019 SheBelieves Cup match between USA and England at Nissan Stadium on March 2, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. Credit: Getty Images/Frederick Breedon

Crystal Dunn’s role with the U.S. women's national team has grown more defensive in recent months ahead of the 2019 World Cup, but early in the NWSL season, the Long Island native is the league’s top offensive threat.

Rockville Centre’s Dunn has thrived as a striker for the North Carolina Courage this season, leading the NWSL with four goals in three games after mostly playing as fullback for the national team and as a winger a year ago.

Dunn scored North Carolina’s only goal in the opener against the Chicago Red Stars, a 66th-minute equalizer to earn the point in a 1-1 home draw. She followed that up with two goals in a 5-0 rout of the Orlando Pride and another score in a 4-1 win over the Houston Dash. Through three matches, Dunn has scored one goal per 63.3 minutes of action and has seen all but one of her nine shots go on target.

Dunn also added an assist on a goal mostly of her own creation, winning the ball off fellow USWNT member Alex Morgan and taking it to the box before finding Lynn Williams for the score against Orlando. Dunn's North Carolina squad returns to action at home against Sky Blue FC on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Here’s a look at how other Long Island products in the NWSL have fared early this season:

Allie Long (Northport), Reign FC

On the bubble for a roster spot in the upcoming World Cup, Long has been healthy and in action for Seattle in each of the first three games of the season after suffering a knee injury late in 2018. She’s played a full 90 minutes in each game, providing a steady presence in the defensive midfield. Long's been involved offensively as well, recording an assist on Bethany Balcer's goal during Reign FC’s second match of the season against Orlando. The Reign hit the road against the Washington Spirit on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Jasmyne Spencer (Bay Shore), Reign FC

Spencer returned to Seattle for the 2019 season after a loan spell with Melbourne City FC of the Australian W-League but likely won’t appear for the rest of the season after an injury in the season opener. Just 20 minutes into Reign FC’s 1-1 draw with Houston, Spencer suffered a torn ACL on a non-contact play and was taken off the field on a stretcher.

Emily Menges (Garden City), Portland Thorns FC

Menges returned to training with the Thorns last week but did not play in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Sky Blue FC as she continues her recovery from a foot injury. She has missed all three of Portland’s matches so far this season. Menges has some time to get healthy before the next match, a May 11 road meeting with Orlando.

Cari Roccaro (East Islip) and Meredith Speck (Rockville Centre), North Carolina Courage

While Dunn has shined for North Carolina, her teammates from LI have yet to see the field. Roccaro and Speck were on the bench for the Courage’s matches against Chicago and Houston, but neither got into the game.

New York Sports