Melis, 29, has moved to the Pacific North West after nine years playing in Sweden’s top flight with the likes of Malmo (now Rosengaard) and Gothenburg. She told The Equalizer that it was a short phone call from Harvey that convinced her to move to the USA.
“I got a call from Laura,” the former Netherlands international said, “we spent about three minutes on the phone and she inspired me, so I was really excited (about the move). I’ve always wanted to play in the USA and I think the Reign is the perfect team for me because they play a little bit like European teams.”
Melis made her debut over the weekend, starting in the Reign’s shock 2-1 home defeat to Sky Blue. Having played almost her entire career in Sweden, there is no doubt it will take the experienced forward time to settle, but her resume is one that should make her a vital piece of the puzzle at Memorial Stadium.
Her country’s record scorer, Melis comes with vast experience having played for almost a decade in one of Europe’s top leagues, as well as in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
But unbeknownst to Laura Harvey when she signed Melis, was that she would have a player on her hands that would not only be available all season, but would not be making regular trips back to Europe.
If you tuned into the Netherlands 2-0 victory over New Zealand or 2-1 loss to Canada this week, you’ll have noticed that Melis’ name was missing from the team sheet. Record scorer with 59 goals for the team famous for its orange shirts, Melis announced her retirement from international football last month after her side failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
The retirement came as a surprise to many with the European Championships being hosted in the Netherlands next year, and the Dutch having arguably its most talented pool of players to choose from. But when Melis spoke to The Equalizer, she said the time was right to step aside and focus on something new.
“I felt after 12 years in the first team it was enough. I wanted to play the Olympics and we were so close, so that was a big, big disappointment (not qualifying).
“So I just felt it was time to do something else and I am here in the USA, I want to enjoy my time here and focus on my team – it’s hard to explain how I feel.”
Melis and the Netherlands made a good impression at their first World Cup in Canada, reaching the last 16 with young talents such as Bayern Munich’s Vivianne Miedema and FC Rosengard’s Lieke Martens spearheading the team.
And it is this young talent that Melis wanted to step aside for, allowing them to lead the team into their first home tournament next year, despite the temptation to carry on.
“There’s so many talented young players in the team, its time for them to shine,” she said. “When I started 12 years ago we were not good, but over the years we have grown so much and started to play good Dutch football, especially in the last couple of years – this is just the start of things and the future looks good.”
Somewhat of a pioneer for Dutch football with 134 international appearances as well, Melis is modest about her achievements, instead choosing to focus on the challenges ahead, rather than accolades of the past.
“I don’t really feel like a pioneer, people don’t know me that well because I never played in the Dutch league,” she said. “People in the Netherlands don’t see that much of what we’re doing in USA or Sweden, so I don’t really think about what I have achieved. But I now have a new challenge ahead of me and I want to focus on that. I’m pleased to be in the USA and I want to play some good soccer here.”
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