December 25, 2016
THE YEAR'S BEST -- NO. 6
The Long and Dunn of it; 2 LI players become Olympians
Like many American women soccer players, Crystal Dunn and Allie Long had dreams and desires to not only to play for the U.S. national team but to strive for a big-time international title.
|Allie Long pursued and lived a dream to play for the U.S. national team in the Olympics.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
After paying their respective dues, both Long Island players finally got that opportunity at the Rio Olympic Summer Olympics.
Dunn, 24, was one of the final cuts from the United States side that won the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada. The Rockville Centre, N.Y. native took out her frustrations on the rest of the National Women's Soccer League that season, winning the scoring title and MVP honors while performing for the Washington Spirit.
"I am more than excited about going to Rio," Dunn said in a statement. "Making this roster means so many things to me. I have worked very hard to be exactly where I am today. I feel like everything I've gone through has made me better. I am excited to represent my country in Rio!"
Long, who had see some time with the national team in the past, earned her way back onto the squad as a versatile midfielder who could play a holding or an attacking role. The Northport, N.Y. native and Portland Thorns midfielder impressed U.S. head coach Jill Ellis.
ďAs soon as Jill said congrats, I was so grateful and thankful," Long said. "I tried not to cry, but when we hung up the phone I did; only happy tears. It was such a cool moment. People had told me this was impossible. The team had just won the World Cup, it was hard that they would change the team and I came in so late, but it happened. I think itís one of the most humbling and special experiences. This is my first big tournament, but I know what it means to represent your country. I watched the last Olympic Games and I know how cool it is and what it takes to win. You represent everyone in the U.S. and everyone is watching. Itís so special. Iím focusing on being my best, both physically and mentally. I think when Iím there it will hit me, but this is unbelievable and Iím so happy.Ē
A day before her 29th birthday, the USA was eliminated by Sweden in a shootout in the quarterfinals. It was a historic result for so many matters. It was the worst showing by a USA women's team in a major Olympic competition -- the WWC or the Olympics. The Americans had reached at least the semifinals in the previous incarnations of the tournament.
Of course, there was life after the Olympics for both players.
Long earned a spot on the NWSL Best XI and was an MVP finalist.
Dunn did not fill the net during the regular season, but scored both Spirit goals in the league final against the Western New York Flash. Regulation and extratime ended in a 2-2 stalemate before the Flash prevailed in a shootout, 3-2.
And there is life after the season.
Both players are preparing for 2017 as they will try to impress and remind Ellis they are able bodies for the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.
With qualifying likely in late 2018, it never hurts to get a head start.
After all, Long and Dunn still have some dreams to pursue.