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Where will Kristie Mewis fit in?

Several questions raised after Red Stars make a trade for the 26-year-old.

Newly acquired Chicago Red Stars midfielder Kristie Mewis will be searching for an area to contribute.
Black and Red United & Washington Spirit

When the Chicago Red Stars announced they acquired midfielder Kristie Mewis on Monday, many began to wonder where the 26-year-old would fit into the Red Stars future plans. It’s unclear what the motivation was for the Red Stars to acquire Mewis but the move came as a no-brainer for the Washington Spirit.

Washington will begin the process of rebuilding for the 2018 season around an exciting prospect in Mallory Pugh. The Spirit also needed to offload some key assets.

From a Chicago perspective, the Red Stars don’t need anymore talent to make a championship run this season. The roster is teeming with talent top to bottom with players who can step in when needed.

Washington wasn’t disappointed in Mewis’ performance with the club, but as Spirit Head Coach Jim Gabarra said, it was time for a change for Mewis and for the Spirit.

“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],” Gabarra said of the changes the Spirit have encountered this season.

“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.”

Gabarra has made a habit this season of deploying his team in a 4-4-2 formation.

Given their defensive woes and place in the NWSL standings, this tactic could be used to help ease some of the pressure on Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe. From Mewis’ perspective a system like this is difficult for an offensive minded midfielder to thrive, as it focuses on build up and defense over attack and flair.

Perhaps the Red Stars front office are looking for a solution to provide depth in the midfield. Given Chicago’s recent troubles with finishing in the final third, Mewis can provide healthy competition for the rest of the midfield and get shots on frame.

Head Coach Rory Dames reflected on the Mewis acquisition, “We’re a little light on the midfield especially from the physicality department,” Dames said of his midfield.

The Red Stars coach noticed a change in tactics as teams prepared to play his squad.

“The last four games we’ve played starting with Orlando they played in a 4-4-2 which they hadn’t done before and they were pretty direct into our line. I would say that Portland, Seattle and Kansas City all followed suite of trying to skip the midfield on us and get balls into our line.

So many teams are doing that against us and we need another physical presence in the midfield and another ball winner beside Julie [Ertz]. So I think Kristie fills a big need for us there.”

Dames also noted that the Red Stars haven’t performed well on set-pieces chances this season. He marvels at Mewis’ ability to change the game on a set-piece.

“We’ve struggled on set pieces this year and for anyone who has seen Kristie play her left foot is magic,” said Dames.

With a crowded midfield that boasts the likes of Sofia Huerta, Julie Ertz, and Vanessa DiBernardo, Mewis will provide healthy competition and could force the hand of Red Stars Head Coach Rory Dames when he selects for his starting lineup.

Dames has mixed his formations this season but has featured a 4-3-1-2 look in the last three matches. Dames has featured the aforementioned Huerta, Ertz, and DiBernardo prominently in his lineup and has rotated players like Taylor Comeau and former Red Stars defender Morgan Proffitt.

Expect Mewis to challenge for the roster spot that has been vacated by Proffitt and work to get minutes in the midfield. She won’t overthrow some of the Red Stars mainstays like Huerta or DiBernardo but she will find ways to contribute.

Another possibility that fans can expect is lining Kristie Mewis up top alongside Christen Press to play a supporting role to generate scoring opportunities and relieve the Red Stars top scorer.

Kristie Mewis could make her Red Stars debut against her former club the Washington Spirit on Saturday at 7pm in Maryland.