The official announcement did not surprise many since it had been reported before the start of this past Saturday's games that Kristie Mewis was being traded to the Chicago Red Stars. Mewis did not play in the Washington Spirit's 2-0 loss to the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL Lifetime Game of the Week. The deal had been completed before the start of the game, and pending final paperwork, Mewis was on her way to Chicago.
Was the trade necessary?
The question, however, on the minds of many was, "Was it necessary?" From a Washington Spirit perspective, the deal was a gain for the club. The trade involved a conditional first-round pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft. With the Spirit currently in the last spot at 10th with a 4-10-4 record and the likelihood of them missing the playoffs this year after reaching the championship last season, Washington has set their sights on 2018. Mewis, who was traded from the Boston Breakers in the offseason, made 14 appearances for the Spirit, scoring 2 goals and notching 1 assist.
“When we acquired Kristie, our team, our roster was in a different place. She was an important part of our roster at the beginning of the season. We didn’t know that we were going to get [Mallory Pugh]. We didn’t know for sure that [Estefanía Banini] was going to be coming back. We don’t know that Havana [Solaun] was going to be as effective as she has been. We had the opportunity to make some moves now here and maybe get a top draft pick or strengthen our team next year by using a quality piece and maybe providing that to a team that’s in the playoff hunt,” said Spirit head coach Jim Gabarra before the start of Saturday's game.
The big head-scratcher was why Chicago felt the need to acquire Mewis. It's not as if they do not have the talent to make a championship run. On paper, the Red Stars have a well-rounded team and have been considered to be a championship-caliber club. But perhaps Mewis can add more depth to their offense that has had trouble finishing. Currently, the Red Stars are on a three-game losing streak, all of them which happened at home, something that was rare because they were on an 8-game unbeaten streak at Toyota Park. Key losses to the Portland Thorns (3-2), Seattle Reign (2-1), and FC Kansas City (3-1) occurred within an eight-day span, and now the Red Stars, who once held the top spot and mostly the 2nd spot in the NWSL are barely hanging on to third with 29 points, and teams like the Orlando Pride (29 points), Seattle Reign (27 points), Sky Blue FC (26 points), FC Kansas City and Houston Dash (26 points each) are making a run to reach the playoffs.
If Mewis can indeed add the much-needed spark to a struggling Chicago offense, who has the smallest goal differential (+2, 25 goals for, 23 against) of the top four teams in the NWSL, then the Red Stars have made an incredibly smart move. However, if Mewis ends up on the bench, much like 2016 summer acquisition Stephanie McCaffrey has done this season with 261 minutes of playing time so far, then the head-scratching will continue.
Also, in order to make room for Mewis on the roster, Chicago also waived midfielder Morgan Proffitt. The rookie defender made 7 appearances for the Red Stars and started 1 game.
Kristie Mewis started her NWSL career with FC Kansas City in 2013. In her 2014-16 seasons, Mewis played for the Boston Breakers where she scored 10 goals and earned 5 assists for the Breakers. The 25-year-old Massachusetts native also earned 15 caps for the U.S. Women’s National Team with her first appearance on February 9, 2013.
Jim Gabarra quote courtesy of the NWSL official press release.