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Aug. 31, 2015 — Dunn and Della Donne

If you haven’t been paying much attention to the WNBA and NWSL seasons this summer, you’re missing a pair of breakout seasons by two female athletes who are going to be wearing the red, white, and blue very soon.

And everyone knows it.

During an on-field interview after the U.S. victory in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Abby Wambach mentioned one of the players who did not make the American roster. That player, Crystal Dunn, has been lighting up the fields of the NWSL this summer as a member of the Washington Spirit.

Dunn, originally drafted as a defender/defensive midfield, has found her niche as a field-stretching scorer. Last evening, in a game against Portland, she scored her 14th and 15th of goals of the season. The latter came less than a minute after the Thorns took a 3-2 lead deep into regulation.

That, to me, is part of what makes a champion. It’s not about the volume of goals scored, it’s when they are scored. Dunn has completely reversed the fortunes of Washington this season, and the other eight coaches in the NWSL know it.

“There’s not a player in our league who has been more consistent and in form than her,” says Houston Dash head coach Randy Waldrum. “Every country, every pro team, every college team dreams about having a player who can score goals. It would be crazy not to have her in.”

Dunn’s versatility should stand her in good stead with Jill Ellis and the rest of the U.S. coaching staff as the Olympic roster comes into focus over the next few months. Only 18 players go to Rio instead of the 23 for the World Cup.

Now, on the basketball court, there was another World Cup that didn’t have nearly the television ratings, but the result was expected; the United States ran the table in pool qualifying and the knockout rounds to win the FIBA World Cup.

And just like in the FIFA competition, the winning American side did not have the player who is having a breakout season in the pros.

That player is Elena Delle Donne from the Chicago Sky. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard/power forward/small forward/center has absolutely maddened opponents with her game this season. According to the Player Efficiency Ratings that take into account several individual metrics, Delle Donne is having a basketball season unlike any other. Her PER is higher than that of any of Michael Jordan’s championship seasons, or even the season when Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50 points per game.

The Sky, currently second in the Eastern Conference, may be the one team that nobody in the playoff bracket wants to meet. Especially with the ball in Delle Donne’s hands late.

With both of these star players ready to break out on the international stage in Rio next year, there’s only one thing to say about anyone about to face the Americans in women’s basketball and soccer:

They’re done.

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1 Comment»

  Carmen Mattei Greenlee wrote @

Hey Al,

When are you going to scout Brunswick, ME HS? They won 4 out of their 5 scrimmages this month, and are really set to go!


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