HARRISON, N.J. — Kristie Mewis waited six years to make her return to the US women’s national soccer team in 2020. Now, she is having to sit through a few more days before knowing whether she will be on the roster for the World Cup.
“It’s obviously very stressful waiting for the roster to come out, but it would mean so much to me, it would make my career,” Mewis said prior to playing for Gotham FC in a recent NWSL game at Red Bull Arena. “It would make everything worth it.
“I am just so excited to hear yes or no because I’m losing so much sleep over it. It would be a dream come true.
“I feel like I would be able to tell my 4-year-old self, like, ‘You did it,’ like you did what you said you were going to do; you came so far being off the team and coming back on the team and staying with the team. It’s been such a long road to get back and it would just mean everything if I made it.”
US coach Vlatko Andonovski is expected to finalize the roster next week. The team will be presented in a ceremony in Los Angeles on June 27 and begin preparing for the World Cup, scheduled for July 20-Aug. 20 in Australia and New Zealand.
If Mewis, who grew up in Hanson, Mass., is selected, it would cap a remarkable comeback. She played for the US in 2013 and ‘14, but was dropped from the team until returning in 2020, when she joined younger sister Samantha in earning a bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
“It feels really good being back with the national team,” said Mewis, 32, who starred at Whitman-Hanson High School and set a Boston College record with 39 goals in 89 career games (since surpassed by McKenzie Meehan). “Of course, it’s been a dream of mine since I got cut however many years ago.
“I think the Olympics were really disappointing, and for the last couple years, we’ve been working really hard to improve and just be ready for the World Cup. So hopefully, if I am fortunate enough to make the roster, I will just be able to go and truly make an impact and try to win the whole thing.”
As youngsters, the Mewis sisters set a goal of performing in the World Cup after watching the US capture the 1999 title. Sam got there first, on a team that won the 2019 title, but injuries are keeping her out of the picture this time.
“I’m so excited for Kristie, seeing her journey,” Sam, 30, said. “Being injured, and by sheer determination working her way back there — being my sister and seeing how hard she worked and how much she put into it, I’m so proud of her.”
Kristie recovered from two knee operations and is now thriving as a playmaking midfielder with Gotham FC.
“There were definitely moments when I had completely given up on it and was just OK with it,” Kristie said. “I was just — it’s so hard to get back there. It really is. It’s such a grind, like getting a call-in is such a big deal. It’s literally the hardest thing to do.
“There were many, many times that I had completely given up on it, but once I tore my ACL, I was like, ‘I’m going to get back on that team, that’s my goal.’ I need to get back, and so that’s what I did.”
So, did she return as an improved player?
“I think the way to put it would be a different player,” she said. “I obviously think that I am better but I do feel like I have changed. I’m an older player, I’m a wiser player, and I feel like that has really changed my game. Because just over the years, playing professionally, you get wiser because, obviously, things slow down a little bit.”
Kristie was a scoring threat growing up as an attacking midfielder in high school and at BC. She has since dropped into a holding midfield role.
“I play little more defensive midfielder-ish,” she said. “I do like it because I’m getting the ball a lot more and I’m able to dish it like I want to. Definitely a little change and I’m enjoying getting on the ball.”
Mewis has proven she belongs with the best. And she has convinced her coaches — from Andonovski (her first professional coach at Kansas City) to Gotham FC’s Juan Carlos Amoros — by choreographing the offense with precise left-foot passes.
“Kristie is a warrior, a fighter,” Amoros said. “She’s a winner and she can put that together with a lot of technical ability, and when you put all those things together — and herself, as a person, how demanding she is, she’s a perfectionist — you have one of the top players in the league. She can deliver set pieces, very good at turning, shifting. You never know what she’s going to do.”
For Kristie, much of her motivation goes back to when she was 8 years old.
“Watching the 1999 World Cup was incredible,” she said. “I think that was probably the turning point in my life about kind of like admitting what I truly wanted. Me and my sister looked at each and we’re like, ‘We’re going to do that one day, we’re going to be at a World Cup, we’re going to change the soccer world one day.’
“I know it’s such a huge goal to make when you’re 8, but I think it was just something that we both sensed and we both, like, we’re literally going to do that.”
Now, the Mewis sisters themselves have become role models.
“I would like to think so and I hope so,” Kristie said. “Even if I can impact one little girl’s life about how she feels about herself, about herself as a soccer player. That’s what’s important to me now, and as I’m getting older, I just want to be an inspiration for as many girls as I can and boys and whoever.”
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.