‘This is very real’: USWNT defender Crystal Dunn on Auckland shooting | USA women’s football team

The United States women’s national team defender Crystal Dunn has said that players had to “compartmentalise everything” on Thursday after a central Auckland shooting left three dead, including the gunman, only a few blocks from the team’s hotel.

“This is very real,” Dunn said. “Our condolences are with the families of the victims. Everyone handles these situations differently so it’s important to give people the space that they need to work through, obviously, the trauma that has occurred today. But just understanding that we’re a unified team and we give people the space that they need. Hopefully today, we’re able to get on the pitch and just have ourselves a kickaround and just try to be connected again on a tough day.”

The USA players were just getting ready to eat breakfast at their team hotel when the incident took place around 7.30am local time. Team security immediately liaised with local authorities and the state department and determined that everyone was safe, a team spokesperson said. Team training was delayed slightly due to the incident.

Hotels hosting several World Cup teams were in the immediate vicinity of the incident. The Norway and Philippines squads were within about one city block of the incident. Spokespersons for both teams said that all members of their respective delegations were safe.

“Unfortunately, I feel like in the US. We’ve dealt with this far too many times,” the USA forward Lynn Williams said, “but there was definitely a sense of let’s come together. We still have a job to do, but also recognising that there were lives lost and that is very real and very devastating. So, we were just thankful that we were safe, that first responders came, and everything was very quick.”

The World Cup opener between New Zealand and Norway went on as planned, with what authorities said would be increased security. Around Eden Park, the venue for the Thursday’s first game, everything appeared to carry on normally in the hours before the match.

Dunn said that her son, who she gave birth to in May 2022, was in transit towards the hotel at the time of the incident but was not in the immediate vicinity.

Players often like to walk around the local area in the little free time they have during the day after training. The night before the incident, the USA players could be seen in the surrounding blocks, Philippines players were meeting family and friends in their hotel and Italian players went shopping for souvenirs.

A US Soccer spokesperson said that players will be able to proceed with free time as usual. New Zealand’s prime minister, Chris Hipkins, said after the shooting that there is no threat to national security.

skip past newsletter promotion

“It’s been pretty much understood that it’s cleared,” Dunn said. “We have a pathway out of the hotel if we want to go see family. Obviously, I’m thinking: ‘Can I go see my son? Can I see my husband?’ And I think we got the go-ahead that everything is OK.

“But at the end of the day, we’re the USA. We know that every time we step out of the hotel, we need to be smart. People notice us and it’s really great, but it also comes with responsibility of being smart about everything you do.”