FRISCO, Texas — If there have been any problems about Crystal Dunn adjusting to life as a fulltime left back with the U.S. women's national team, there have been very few signs of it.
The Rockville Centre native and South Side High School graduate has been quite comfortable on defense during the 2018 CONCACAF Women's Championship. She has been lethal while overlapping as part of a seemingly relentless attack.
For the National Women's Soccer League champion North Carolina Courage this past season, Dunn was deployed as an attacking midfielder.
"I just remind myself, it's just playing soccer," she said. "Ultimately, I am in a different position. I just try to bring out my traits in that role. They allow me to play an outside back position similar to how I like to play an attacking role. There's a lot of similarities in it."
Take what transpired during the Americans' 6-0 victory over Jamaica on Sunday, which clinched their eighth consecutive appearance in the Women's World Cup.
Midfielder Julie Ertz sent a pass to Dunn on the left flank in the 21st minute. The former Albertson Soccer Club standout raced deep into the left corner and lofted a pinpoint cross to the middle of the penalty area that the streaking Ertz headed home from close range for a 3-0 advantage.
"I just look up and I see numbers in the box," said Dunn, who scored in the 7-0 group-stage win over Trinidad & Tobago. "I actually didn't look to see she was the one running into the box. I just served the ball perfectly to where people end it. It was her that got on the end of it. 'Wow! You just played me that ball two seconds ago.' It was an awesome goal for her."
The U.S., which has a 25-game unbeaten streak (22-0-3), met Canada for the championship on Wednesday night, three days after both teams qualified for the 2019 Women's World Cup on Sunday.
"We know this is a very unique opportunity for us to punch our ticket," Dunn said. "I think it's awkward actually going into a semifinal knowing it’s a bigger game than the actual final. We wanted to play some good soccer and get the job done early. That's what we did. We were really happy with the result and the way we played. It was a great performance."
In all four CWC games, the U.S. has scored within the opening 10 minutes, which doesn't allow the opposition to bunker in and park the proverbial bus in front of the net.
The Americans have outscored their opposition, 24-0, while outshooting them, 143-10.
"Going into every game, we obviously want to be on our front foot," Dunn said. "We don't set out to say, 'We're going to score in the first minute, two minutes, three minutes.’ Ultimately, we know with good pressure, anything could happen. Throughout this tournament we've always tried to start the game off quick and get up a goal early, keep maintaining to put out a good performance."