Nearly a year has passed since Houston Dash midfielder Kristie Mewis suffered a torn ACL in a 3-2 win over the Washington Spirit. At the time of the injury, Mewis was in the middle of a resurgent season after a difficult 2017 that saw her traded from the Boston Breakers to the Chicago Red Stars, only to find herself on the move once again to Houston just nine days later.
After beginning 2018 as a defender amidst the slowest start in Dash team history, Mewis was moved to her more familiar midfield spot from the sixth game of the season. She proceeded to score two goals over the next five games and to play an integral role in the team taking eight points over that stretch after recording just two in the first five games.
Then the injury happened.
Last Saturday against the Utah Royals, Mewis made her long-awaited return to the starting lineup. In a hard-fought match, she went the full 90 and played a key role in a 2-1 road win that pushed the Dash to the top of the NWSL table with ten points through five games, the best start in team history.
Dash head coach James Clarkson was delighted with her return to the lineup: “It was great for her to play 90 minutes and she was incredibly influential in the game on both sides of the ball.”
How did Mewis feel about the 90 minutes?
“Tiring,” she joked. “No, it was awesome. I’ve been waiting for it for a very long time. It was the best feeling in the world to be out there and play 90 with the girls.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere without all of them. It’s been a long year, and I think I still have a long way to go, but I felt really good. And I’m excited for the next couple of games.”
It was the third appearance of the season for the midfielder. Her first came as a 63rd minute substitute in the April 20 road win over Sky Blue FC. In the aftermath of that match, a hamstring injury sustained in training provided for a setback that kept her out of the next match.
“I think a lot of people, when you’re out with a long injury like an ACL, when you’re coming back you tend to pick up little injuries here and there. I took good care of it and it ended up being fine,” Mewis said of the injury.
The May 5 home win over Orlando gave the chance to test the hamstring with a 13-minute stint off the bench and built up confidence to re-establish herself in the starting lineup.
Her return to full fitness could not have come at a better time for the Dash, who were already without their four Canadians against Utah – including midfielder Sophie Schmidt. Canada brought its national team together to prepare for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Duty after the week four NWSL matches.
Following the upcoming May 19 game at BBVA Compass Stadium against the Chicago Red Stars, Australians Clare Polkinghorne and Kyah Simon will depart while Rachel Daly heads off to join England and Kayla McCoy links up with Jamaica.
“It’s massive,” Clarkson said this week of the timing of Mewis’ return. “I think our midfield has really been strong this season, and she adds depth to it and now that Sophie Schmidt’s gone, it really adds more depth and competition.
“It’s like getting a brand new player back, it is massive for the squad. We’re really pleased to have her, she’s a huge part of what we’re trying to do this season.”
A midfield that includes Sofia Huerta, Christine Nairn and Haley Hanson is expected to be a strength for the Dash during the World Cup period, and Mewis’ welcome return to group will only make it that much more formidable.