2012 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup

US Soccer

Brian, Dunn & Ertz: The "NEW" New Kids Are All Grown Up

In 2008, Lauren Holiday, Tobin Heath and Amy Rodriguez, all 20-years-old or younger and teammates on the 2006 U-20 Women’s World Cup Team, were working to establish themselves on the U.S. WNT. They were the subject of a ussoccer.com video highlighting the talented youngsters and dubbing them, The New Kids.

Six years later, a new generation came into the fold, and in 2014, Lauren, Tobin and Amy passed the torch to the NEW New Kids: 22-year-old Julie Johnston, 21-year-old Morgan Brian and 22-year-old Crystal Dunn who were trying to make the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team and had all been teammates on the U.S. team that won the 2012 Under-20 Women’s World Cup,

Like their mentors before them, the careers and lives of Julie, Morgan and Crystal have seemed to intertwine.

The beginning of the story for these three can be traced back to 2008, when Dunn and Brian played in the first FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand – Dunn as a starter and Brian, the youngest player on the roster, as a reserve outside back.

Four years later, Brian, Dunn and Johnston helped the USA win the 2012 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship and then memorably played key roles as the USA won the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan. Brian played all but 18 minutes, Johnston played all but 32, and Dunn played every minute of every game.

Dunn, Johnston and Brian at the 2012 U-20 FIFA Women's World Cup in Japan 

During the tournament, Brian pulled the strings in a talented midfield and scored a goal in the semifinal against Nigeria, while as a right back Dunn had two huge assists – in the quarterfinal and championship matches – to lead the USA to victory. Johnston captained the squad and marshaled a stout U.S. defense that allowed only one goal in the knockout stages. She won the Bronze Ball as the third best player in the tournament, a rare feat for a defender. Their success on the youth level showed that these three had the potential for bright futures on the senior side, and they would all debut for the full WNT within a four-month span the following year.

Johnston and Dunn earned their first caps in the same week, just four days apart against Scotland. Johnston’s came on Feb. 9, 2013 while Dunn made her debut on Feb. 13, 2013. Brian quickly followed, earning her first cap on June 15, 2013 against the Korea Republic.

Brian and Dunn have played with each other since 2008, when they were teammates at the U-17 Women's World Cup

Together on the senior team, Brian and Johnston went on to win the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. Dunn was initially named to the roster but suffered a mild MCL strain and was replaced by none other than Johnston. Brian, Johnston and Dunn were all a part of the teams that won 2015 Algarve Cup, the 2016 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and the 2016 SheBelieves Cup. They were also all part of the 2016 Olympic Team.

Brian and Johnston were key members of the U.S. team that won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Dunn was the last player cut from that roster, but she used that as motivation to have an incredible year in the NWSL, earning the 2015 MVP award and establishing herself as one of the best and most lethal attackers in the league.

Julie Johnston, Morgan Brian
Johnston and Brian won the FIFA Women's World Cup together in 2015

“I am so lucky to have this amazing soccer journey with Crystal and Morgan since our youth days, and it's even more special to have a different connection off the field,” Johnston told ussoccer.com.

Fast forward to the Spring of 2017, and all three are established contributors to the National Team. Currently, Brian has 66 caps and six goals, Johnston has 47 caps and eight goals while Dunn has 50 caps and 22 goals, including a team record-tying five in one game against Puerto Rico in Olympic qualifying.

So, after seven years of playing together on the U.S. National Teams (nine for Brian and Dunn), years of personal and athletic growth, there are also some new milestones to celebrate in the lives of the NEW New Kids. It turns out that off the field, the NNKs are all grown up too, and once again, they seem to be doing it all together, almost at the same time.

Twenty-five-year-old Julie Ertz (née Johnston) recently married her college sweetheart, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz.

“It is so crazy to think all three of us have found the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with around the same time,” said Ertz. “Playing soccer professionally is our dream, but it takes away from our loved ones often and distance is never easy, so it’s nice to have someone who understands those challenges and is going through the same thing. It makes it a little easier. We have three lucky men! And that's three super fun weddings! They are all very supportive and huge soccer fans.”

As for 24-year-olds Dunn and Brian, they are both engaged now, and yes, though it was not planned, their engagements came within a few months of each other.

“Us NEW New Kids are growing up fast!” Brian said about her soccer and life journey with Dunn and Ertz. “It’s a really exciting time in all of our lives and it’s fun to be able to witness how we’ve changed and have been molded by the people we have met.”

“I am so happy for Julie and Crystal. We’ve helped each other through the ups and downs of the National Team, which is no easy task, and now we help each other through the process of wedding planning, which could be even more difficult, to be honest. It’s been a fun ride.” 

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WNT May 22, 2017



Date Matchup Result Venue Attendance Goal Scorers
1-0 W National Stadium; Tokyo, Japan 31,114 Ohai
2-0 W National Stadium; Tokyo, Japan 28,306 Brian, Ohai
2-1 W Komaba Stadium; Saitama, Japan 6,284 Di Bernardo, Ubogagu
0-3 L Miyagi Stadium; Rifu, Japan 1,712 --
1-1 D Hiroshima Big Arch Stadium; Hiroshima, Japan 3,559 Hayes
4-0 W Hiroshima Big Arch Stadium; Hiroshima, Japan 2,582 Own goal, Hayes(3)