By 90Min
June 13, 2019

It's pretty hard to miss Sam Mewis.

6'0 and a commanding force in the midfield, Mewis has been a professional since 2015, taking over the National Women's Soccer League with her size and tenacity to find the back of the net. But while she's tall and will certainly drill in a headed goal or two, Mewis isn't afraid to score with her feet.

In fact, her two goals in the USWNT's record-breaking 13-0 victory over Thailand on Tuesday came off her feet; but she wasn't the first choice to start in the World Cup opener. 

With Becky Sauerbrunn out with a mild quad injury, Julie Ertz slotted back to the centre-back role next to Abby Dalhkemper. Ertz and Mewis normally rotate as defensive midfielders, but the former's move to defence meant that Mewis moved over to a right midfield position, while Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan took the other midfield slots.

While her goals will certainly help her standing with the national team, it's also important to keep the opponent in mind. Simply put, Thailand doesn't have a player nearly as tall as Mewis – and the extraordinary scoreline wasn't unexpected either, as the last time the two sides faced off the USWNT took a 9-0 victory.

With the victory and her two goals, should Mewis continue to start at the FIFA Women's World Cup? Let's take a look.


Mewis Should Start Against Sweden

Not just a midfield option, Mewis should be a key player in that Sweden game because of her height, with set piece chances likely to decide the winner of the match – which will likely decide the winner of the group, unless something unexpected happens in the second round of games. 

Mewis is a threat on any set piece due to her height and, while Sweden are a physical team, they aren't as tall. Other players have used their height to their advantage in this tournament, including Wendie Renard of France; the Lyon defender scoring twice in France's opener against South Korea with her head. Mewis needs to be more aggressive on set pieces, but could be a real threat on goal.


Experience or Height?

The case for Mewis over Ertz is simple: Julie Ertz doesn't have the height that Mewis has.

However, she's not too far off – or at least, her height isn't a disadvantage. Ertz is 5'7 and has been deployed to be a threat on set pieces in the past, while her long range shooting is also good. 

Where Ertz comes into her own is when it comes to experience – this is her second World Cup, after being a part of the winning team in 2015. She's obviously preferred by Ellis in the midfield now, after spending the 2015 tournament at centre-back with Sauerbrunn.

As mentioned, Ertz and Mewis have been rotated with each other in the starting lineup, while Mewis will sometimes come in as a substitute to give her teammate a rest; but Ertz remains the presumptive starter if the whole squad is fit.


What's the Verdict?

The issue with the USWNT is depth.

While the team has some excellent players on it, the depth can be too much for the national side; with 23 spots on the roster and only 11 players on the pitch at any one time. A case can be made for everyone on the bench to be starting, but continuity of selection matters in creatinv offensive and defensive systems.

Mewis might not start in any more games, with Sauerbrunn presumably coming back for the Chile game. 'Too much' depth is a good problem to Jill Ellis to have though, and if the USWNT need some help on set pieces, Mewis should be the first substitute in.

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