Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By CAITLIN MURRAY
If you ask any players in the National Women’s Soccer League how they’ve spent their off-seasons, only one could say she was on three teams in 12 days.
For Kristie Mewis, it turned out the shuffling was part of a master plan to bring her home to the Boston Breakers – a best-case scenario she had been hoping for, but never expected.
“I never really set my mind on going to Boston because I didn’t think it was really going to be able to happen,” Mewis said on the phone last week with SBI. “I wanted it to happen and my agent was going to try to make it work, but nothing was 100 percent at all. So when I got traded to Seattle, I was full-on with that and getting excited for that.”
Seattle Reign FC general manager Laura Harvey has kept busy, helping coordinate the multi-step trade that managed to bring U.S. National Team goal-scorer Sydney Leroux to Seattle in exchange for Mewis and a couple draft options. Harvey had traded forward Amy Rodriguez to FC Kansas City for Mewis days earlier.
The path to the Boston Breakers involved plenty of planning – club general manager Lee Billiard said he had “been trying to get Kristie in a Breakers jersey since January” – but for Mewis, a Hanson, Mass. native, it was simply about coming home.
“I’ve lived in the same house all growing up and then when I went to [Boston College], I lived there in Boston. I definitely see myself being there. It’s just a comfort zone,” said Mewis, 22. “I’ve been pretty much everywhere in the United States and a couple dozen other countries – Boston’s my favorite place in the entire world.”
It was a blockbuster trade, giving Reign a proven goal-scorer they very desperately needed. Leroux, a native of Vancouver, Canada, has 24 goals in 43 caps for the full American squad and 11 goals and two assists in 19 games for the Breakers.
Mewis has one goal and two assists in 10 national team caps and one goal in 20 caps for FC Kansas City – but the stats don’t tell the full story. While she saw some time in the comfort of the midfield for both club and country, she spent most of this year testing the waters of left back.
Coach Tom Sermanni has seemed undecided on his defensive line ever since taking the U.S. National Team job at the start of the year. He’s given some of the squad’s previously benched defenders a second look, but created a special spot for Mewis, who has been a midfielder since college and played forward before that.
Midway through the NWSL season, FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski began starting Mewis at left back, too. With the Boston Breakers still in an offseason team-building mode, it remains to be seen where she will be used in 2014.
“I’ve just had an open-mind with everything,” Mewis said. “I’m still young and developing so I’m not really sure where I belong on the field yet. But I love being able to play any position. I think that’s probably a strength of mine, but I do know that I need to narrow down and excel in one position in order to be successful with the national team and at the professional level.”
“Hopefully with this year, I can really narrow that down and try to figure out where I really belong on the field.”
Mewis has joined her U.S. teammates in California for a two-week training camp until Dec. 15, where Sermanni is expected to begin the very difficult task of narrowing down a World Cup roster from a very deep player pool.
If she is selected for a camp in early January, she hopes Sermanni’s plan for her will become clearer.
The numerical impact Mewis has made for the national team has mostly be from the back field so far. Starting at left back, she scored her first international goal in Foxborough, Mass., in front of a very large cheering section filled with friends and family.
It seemed it had to happen in front of a home crowd.
But the assist came from Leroux, which also seems fitting. After all, the twist of irony in the Seattle-Boston trade is that Mewis and Leroux are actually best friends. So much so that fans have even given them a name: “LeMew.”
They won’t be playing on the same team come spring, but that’s OK – “LeMew” will make it through.
“We talked about it a little bit – we were like, ‘That’d be so cool if we could swap places and we’d both be able to go home,’ ” Mewis said. “This won’t change our friendship at all. We’re basically like sisters so we’ll still be talking all the time and it will be cool to play against each other. It’ll just be funny that we swapped places.”