U.S. women's national team players Samantha Mewis and Rose Lavelle have returned to the National Women's Soccer League after the conclusion of the 2020-21 FA Women's Super League season with Manchester City.
The American midfielders joined Manchester City in the summer of 2020 following the conclusion of the inaugural 2020 Challenge Cup. Mewis was a standout for the Cityzens midfield, playing 17 matches, logging 1,147 minutes, scoring seven goals and assisting two more. Lavelle made 16 appearances and three starts for City for a total of 466 minutes played. She scored five goals with appearances in the FA Cup and Champions League matches.
"It has been a privilege to work with Sam and Rose this season. They came here, got the bit between their teeth and drove standards here at the Club which is something I was really keen for them to do," Manchester City head coach Gareth Taylor said. "I think they raised the levels of quality and work ethic in the squad -- their commitment was incredible, whether it be during training or matches, and they had a real team mentality."
The NWSL regular season kicked off this weekend, so let's take a look at the clubs the 2019 World Cup champions are returning to.
Upon her departure overseas, North Carolina Courage retained Mewis' player rights if the Massachusetts native made a return to NWSL. Mewis made big waves across the pond as she slotted right into Manchester City's midfield and had an immediate impact. The 2020 U.S. Soccer female player of the year helped dominate a Manchester midfield alongside Caroline Weir and Keira Walsh, and is now returning to North Carolina.
"I am so thankful and excited to have the opportunity to return to North Carolina after my time overseas," Mewis said via a club release. "I feel like I am coming home to a team where I know I will be both embraced and challenged. Everyone at the Courage has been supportive of me and my journey over the past several months and I'm extremely grateful for the experience that I've had in Manchester. I cannot wait to play in front of the Courage fans again and to do my very best to help us win."
Mewis has won multiple Championships in her time with North Carolina -- two NWSL Championships, three consecutive NWSL Shields, and a Women's ICC Championship title -- and will likely return to the squad in head coach Paul Riley's signature box midfield. It's a role that Mewis has excelled in on the Courage's championship runs, and her return will help the North Carolina side dictate tempo in games with her ability to control the ball and connect with her teammates.
Ahead of her big move overseas, Lavelle's former NWSL club, the Washington Spirit, made a trade with OL Reign for her player rights. Washington received OL Reign's natural first-round draft pick in the 2022 NWSL College Draft and $200,000 in allocation money. The deal included $100,000 in allocation money that was paid at the time of the trade, and now that Lavelle has returned, the second payment of $100,000 will be paid to the Spirit.
"We are incredibly excited for Rose to be joining our team," said OL Reign head coach Farid Benstiti in a club release. "She is a special player that has the ability to change games. She is an ambitious player and very effective in the midfield. Her experiences in the NWSL and WSL, as well with the national team have made her a very aware and intelligent player. We are looking forward to adding her to our team."
Lavelle is joining a Reign side that will likely utilize her in her ideal position in the midfield after her time in Manchester City was limited in appearances and spilt in time spent on the wing and in the midfield. Lavelle can thrive with the Reign as a central attacking mid option should coach Benstiti want to have both Lavelle and new loan acquisition Dzsenifer Marozsán running things in the midfield, with Lavelle providing speed up top for the Reign's transition.
"I just wanted to say how excited I am for this next chapter of my career with this team," said Lavelle. "I am really looking forward to getting to Tacoma and being a part of what they are building there. I think it is going to be such a fun and exciting season ahead. I can't wait to be a part of it with OL Reign."