Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Midfielder Sam Mewis is out indefinitely after another knee surgery, she announced on Monday. Mewis is expected to miss the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League season and the 2023 World Cup for the United States women’s national team, according to people familiar with the situation.
“I don’t have a timeline for return to soccer, but I will give my best effort in my recovery as I always have,” Mewis said in a statement on Monday.
Mewis had another surgery last week on her knee to address an injury that kept her out of action for the entire 2022 NWSL regular season and out of U.S. games for the past 18 months. “I gave everything I had to rehabbing my knee after my last precudre in 2021,” she said in her statement.
The Current bought out Mewis’ previous contract and signed her to a new contract for the 2023 season. The team is expected to place her on the season-ending injury list.
What does it mean for Sam Mewis?
This is obviously the most important question. Mewis just turned 30 years old and, when she last played regularly, was considered to be one of the best midfielders in the world. She established herself as such during the 2020-2021 season with Manchester City, where she logged seven goals and two assists in 17 league games as Manchester City chased the title, ultimately falling 2 points short of Chelsea. Mewis scored from the penalty spot in a 2-1 victory over Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, although the second-leg win was not enough to see City advance.
Mewis then returned to the North Carolina Courage, playing in five matches before leaving for the Tokyo Olympics. Her minutes during that tournament varied. Mewis last played for the U.S. on August 5, 2021, in the bronze-medal victory over Australia.
Her focus is about getting healthy, first and foremost.
What does this mean for the United States?
The U.S. has been without Mewis for 18 months now, so in an immediate sense, head coach Vlatko Andonovski has already been planning for life without Mewis. Midfielder Julie Ertz, who gave birth to her first child in August, also has not played since that bronze-medal game, meaning two-thirds of the U.S.’ starting midfield from the 2019 World Cup triumph has been and will be absent from the 2023 squad.
Rose Lavelle is the remaining starter from that 2019 midfield and is even more integral to the current rendition of the United States women’s national team. She still serves as the No. 10, with Lindsey Horan typically occupying the No. 8 role (previously deputized by Mewis) and Andi Sullivan as the No. 6 (where Ertz thrived).
The new-look U.S. midfield has struggled against top-tier opponents, including a three-game losing streak to England, Spain and Germany in the fall. Many held out hope that Mewis might soon return, but Monday’s news effectively ends that. The U.S. will go to the 2023 World Cup without Sam Mewis.
“Sam will take a little bit longer and at this point, I don’t want to guess what the time is or if she is going to be back at all,” Andonovski said earlier this month in New Zealand.
What about Kansas City?
The Current stocked up on midfield talent this offseason through free agency, and that suddenly makes a lot more sense. Morgan Gautrat and Vanessa DiBernardo will be tasked with holding down roles that Mewis was once expected to fill. Mewis signing a new contract for a lower salary cap his also frees up desperately needed cap space in Kansas City, where Debinha — possibly the highest-priced free agent on the global market this transfer window — just signed.
The Current traded for Mewis in November 2021, sending away defender Kiki Pickett and a 2022 first-round pick to the Courage. Mewis has, to date, played only twice in a Kansas City jersey: a pair of 45-minute outings last March in the preseason Challenge Cup, before she was ultimately shut down for the year.
Kansas City will hope that it can have Mewis back at some point in the future, but it is unclear if that will happen.