Rose Lavelle (left) and Sam Mewis (right) won the FA Cup with City in November
With all the hype that has surrounded world champions Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle since joining Manchester City, the story of how their friendship blossomed is one that makes them relatable to women up and down the country.
"Shall I tell the story?" Mewis turns to ask Lavelle. The pair are sat at Mewis’ kitchen breakfast bar, speaking over video call. Lavelle nods, mouth pursed, holding in her laughter.
"Okay," Mewis says, bracing herself. "We were room-mates for the first time in 2015 when the US team went to Hawaii. A really funny thing happened on the trip." Both of them steal a look at each other. "I had a…," she pauses, wondering how best to word it, "… a really serious pee emergency and there was no bathroom."
"Right off the bat," Lavelle cuts in. "Like when we first got on the boat, she was in a pee emergency. But there was no bathroom on the boat."
Mewis continues: "Then we get there and I’m like, ‘is there a bathroom?’"
"No bathroom," smirks Lavelle.
"We’re there for, like, two hours and I’m like almost crying," Mewis adds. "I had to pee so bad. And [USA record goal-scorer] Abby Wambach is going, ‘Can she just pee off the back of the boat?’ And veterans of the team were like, ‘Sam, just pee your pants it’s fine’. And I remember standing there, everyone singing the national anthem and I was crying."
"She was crying because her bladder hurt so bad," Lavelle interjects sympathetically.
"I remember that now as a legendary story in our friendship," Mewis laughs.
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Hearing two world-class players recount a "pee emergency" situation with such candour is testimony to their close friendship. Since joining the Women’s Super League this summer, all eyes have been on Mewis and Lavelle as they became the first of five American imports to move to England. Christen Press, Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan followed, the first two at Manchester United and the latter Tottenham Hotspur.
Fascination has followed the World Cup winners, but the City pair seem slightly bemused by it all. Despite already winning an FA Cup within four months of moving from the NWSL to Manchester, everyday life for Lavelle and Mewis is much more normal than one might expect. It is about coping with the mundane first-world problems that come with moving your life across the Atlantic, especially during a pandemic. Their great concerns – beyond football – are the way washer-dryers in England take much longer than American ones and how coffees-to-go count as the only option for an "adventure" round the city.
Lockdown cooking is pretty high on the priority list, and Telegraph Sport meets them on taco night. Lavelle is being hosted by her support bubble of Mewis and her husband Pat – plus their Cavapoo puppy Finn. "Luckily, I have them here," Mewis, 28, says. "It’s nice to have a piece of home with me, living so far away."
What of Lavelle’s home comforts? "Well," she pauses… "I don’t have a husband." They both erupt in laughter again. "But I have Sam, Pat and Finn – they’re my family here."
Both Lavelle and Mewis won the Women's World cup with the US in 2019
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Though extended American ‘family’ Heath and Press live nearby, Covid-19 protocols mean no mixing between teams and they are yet to meet each other in person on these shores, their contact confined to a group chat. That moment will come on Saturday when they will line up on opposite sides in their first Manchester derby.
"I think any time you’re playing against your teammates and friends, it’s exciting," Mewis says. "It’s going to be great competition and that’s what you want, to have to play your best to win. We know how talented they are and their team is, they’ve been doing so well."
But even without that added dimension, a derby is an exciting prospect for Mewis and Lavelle, who have found their rhythm on the pitch already. While 25-year-old Lavelle is well known for her technical ability – her slight frame and quick feet helping her get around opponents – Mewis’ six-foot stature has seen her storm through defensive lines.
And both give glowing reviews of the talent that surrounds them in the City squad, made up of Lionesses they beat in last year’s World Cup semi-final. "I feel like USA versus England has turned into a bit of a rivalry," Lavelle says. "Being in a training environment with them every day, it’s like we have that much more respect for them. They push us and challenge us every day."
They see the team as being grounded by a core group of players, including Keira Walsh and Caroline Weir, who they say do not get enough credit for their ability. "They’ll be in these tight spaces and get out of it so effortlessly that I feel like people don’t even realise how hard it is," Lavelle adds.
For all their quality though, City have had inconsistent results in the league, placing them fifth. At this early point in the season, the derby already feels like it could prove to be decisive. In a case of the WSL hierarchy tables being turned, United are top of the table and a loss for City would see them trail by eight points. But Mewis and Lavelle see their team’s three consecutive wins in all competitions – including their FA Cup victory – as momentum to take into their first derby experience.
"I think we’re both just excited to experience something that’s such a big part of English football, which is one of the reasons I came here," Mewis says. "We have rivalries at home, in college there’s really specific rivalries, but it seems more official here because we’re both from Manchester. It feels historic."