The NWSL continues to strengthen its talent pool, with USWNT stars Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis returning from their year-long stints with Manchester City to join OL Reign and the North Carolina Courage respectively. In a press release on their club website, the 2021 WSL runner-ups thanked both players for the contributions, specifically their “integral part in helping the Club retain the Vitality Women’s FA Cup for a second successive season in November last year, with Mewis scoring the opener in the showpiece final at Wembley Stadium against Everton.”
Mewis returns to the team she spent five seasons at from 2015 to 2020 (one of those when the franchise played as the Western New York Flash), while Lavelle joins a significantly strengthened OL Reign squad which last month announced the additions of Olympique Lyonnais stars Eugenie Le Sommer, Dszenifer Maroszán, and Sarah Bouhaddi, who will be arriving in early June. You can read more about Lavelle’s expected impact in Justin McMullen’s OL Reign round up later this week.
Mewis comes back to the NWSL in a rich vein of form, having gone from strength to strength since starring for the US at the 2019 World Cup. She scored sixteen goals in thirty-two appearances for the Citizens across all competitions, and her exploits in Europe are part of what prompted ESPN to rank her as the #1 women’s soccer player in the world. Head coach Paul Riley described Mewis as a “juggernaut,” and her solidity in midfield, not to mention the immense goal threat that she poses, will have Courage fans elated by her return. The Courage’s offense flourished in the 2021 Challenge Cup, scoring a tournament-high nine goals in the group stage, perhaps assuaging some concerns following Crystal Dunn’s trade to Portland. The idea of adding Mewis back to the already terrifying group of Lynn Williams, Jessica McDonald, and Debinha will have opposing defenses even more wary.
More interesting to watch will be Mewis’s impact on the team’s defense, which shipped a tournament-high seven goals in group play. Notably, the team was missing both Abby Erceg (back injury) and Abby Dahlkemper, the latter of whom remains with Manchester City after signing a two and a half year contract in January. Erceg recovered from her injury in time to return to the starting eleven for North Carolina’s first game of the regular season, a 0-0 draw against OL Reign, and Mewis’s return may be the final piece to shoring up the leaky defense.
Image courtesy on NC Courage.