Football unites US sister act
© Foto-net

Some sisters are so alike as to be near-inseparable. Within minutes of meeting Kristie and Sam Mewis, it becomes apparent that they are not those kind of sisters.

As dissimilar in demeanour as they are in appearance, the USA midfield duo gave a telling response when asked before the tournament what they have in common. "We play soccer," was Sam's answer. "That's basically it," agreed Kristie. "We're very different."

Not that their coach will care. These sisters might not be joined at the hip, but there is certainly no animosity between them and, in any case, Kazbek Tambi, as a student of the game, will know that football's most successful siblings have not always been the best of friends. Jack and Bobby Charlton represent the perfect example, with these legends, who helped England win their only FIFA World Cup™, having made no secret of their uneasy relationship.

The Mewis sisters get on better than the Charlton brothers ever did, yet what they hold in common with the 1966 heroes is that it is the beautiful game that brings them together. And the results, when the pair are in tune, can be devastating. "Sometimes we have our moments," Kristie told FIFA.com. "There are definitely times when we link up really well without even thinking, and I guess that's down to the fact we're sisters and have the whole telepathy thing going on."

Kristie, 17, is the elder and more serious of the two, and her touch, vision and long-range shooting ability has helped her emerge as, arguably, the Americans' outstanding player at New Zealand 2008. She has also clearly served as a role model for her youngster sister, who turned 16 only last month and returned to the USA starting line-up for the 4-2 quarter-final win over Korea Republic.

As Sam explained: "I would look up to her and want to be like her, mainly because she's always been a really good player." Kristie, for her part, speaks of being "really proud" of her sister's speedy progress through the US youth ranks.

Football also unites the Mewis girls back home in the little Massachusetts town of Hanson, where watching the latest offerings from Europe's top leagues is a staple of their leisure time. "Our coach is a big believer in that," said Kristie. "He always says that we should be looking at the best teams and the best guys in our position to see how they play and where we can improve. We watch a lot of the European games back home and the thing you really notice with teams like Chelsea and Manchester United is that they possess the ball so well and move it around so quickly."

USA's failure to dominate possession was certainly Tambi's most oft-heard complaint during the group stage, although he was far from alone in noting the significant improvement made in that respect against the South Koreans. "That was definitely our best performance here," said Kristie. "I think for the first time we really started to relax out there. I don't know why, but in the first couple of games we were a little bit shaky and didn't seem focused on what one another was doing."

Worryingly for semi-final opponents Germany, however, Mewis Snr has warned that USA have still to hit top gear. "We can be pretty formidable if we get going and we can still be so much better. I've seen us at our best and, against Korea, that definitely wasn't it. We're really excited about playing Germany because we know it's a huge rivalry, and hopefully this will be when we bring our A-game."

The two sisters have certainly been enjoying themselves off the field in New Zealand, with Kristie listing a trip to a glow worm cave in Waitamo as the highlight thus far. "But we haven't got to shop yet," Sam retorted. "That's something we both really, really want to do that before we go back!"

Evidence, perhaps, that football is not the only passion uniting these sisters after all.