Fifteen years later and half a world away, things are coming full circle for U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Kristie Mewis. Although the 32-year-old was named to her first Women’s World Cup roster last month, she is no stranger to representing her country on the world stage. Mewis, who helped the USA win bronze at the delayed 2021 Tokyo Olympics, represented the USA at two youth World Cups, including the 2008 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup which was hosted by New Zealand.
“It’s so good being back here,” Mewis told the media less than a week ahead of the team’s opening match in Auckland. “Honestly, I had the best time when I was 17 here for the World Cup. It’s pretty cool being back.”
In preparation for this year’s World Cup, Mewis and the USWNT kicked off the 2023 campaign in New Zealand, training at North Harbour Stadium in the leadup to the January friendlies against the Football Ferns. North Harbour, which will be the site of the USA’s official training before starting the tournament against Vietnam on July 22 (1 p.m. local; 9 p.m. ET on July 21), was also the site of two of the USA’s game at the U-17 World Cup, including the final against North Korea. The USA fell heartbreakingly short in that game, losing 2-1 in extra time.
Despite the final score, Mewis had a stellar tournament for the USA and was awarded the Bronze Ball as the third-best player at the tournament. Later that year, she was named the U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year.
“It brought back all these memories,” said Mewis. “It is super special being here and it’s cool to come to a familiar place. We’re so excited and we’re having the best time. Auckland is beautiful and amazing and we’re really happy to be back.”
With a new World Cup, new challenges and new opportunities awaiting Mewis and the USA in the days and weeks ahead, there’s no better place to kick things off than in New Zealand, a place that features such friendly and warm people (if not weather at this time of the year) who love their sports.