Football fans around the world flocked to Twitter. They dubbed 2020 the Year of the Mewis (Mewii, MewTwo, Mewies – pick your favorite). Fans saw Kristie Mewis play some of the best football of her career, win the NWSL Challenge Cup, and return to the U.S. Women’s National Team fold.
Her sister Samantha Mewis won the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Tournament and the SheBelieves Cup, and was named U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year. She played with the North Carolina Courage in the Challenge Cup before joining Manchester City in the Women’s Super League.
Both Mewis sisters had fantastic years. But to think 2020 encapsulated Sam Mewis’s run of good form would be a mistake. Rather than the Year of the Mewis, these past few years should be labeled as the dawning of Sam Mewis’s time at the pinnacle of the sport.
Sam Mewis’s rise to stardom
The Massachusetts native has always been a dynamic midfielder integral to her team’s success. She won the 2013 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship with UCLA before making the jump to the NWSL.
Mewis was selected fourth overall by the Western New York Flash in 2015. The Flash won the NWSL Championship in 2016 before the franchise rights were sold and the team rebranded in North Carolina.
The North Carolina Courage went on to dominate the league. They won the NWSL Shield in 2017, 2018, and 2019 and the NWSL Championship in 2018 and 2019.
Mewis made her international debut in 2014. She was always a good midfield player who could fit into just about any midfield. Mewis was named an alternate for the 2016 Olympics and missed the 2018 SheBelieves Cup due to an injury.Embed from Getty Images
The midfielder burst onto the global scene, becoming a household name, at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Many U.S. fans believed Jill Ellis’s midfield would comprise of Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan. But Mewis was ever-present in the center of the park for the team.
She played six of the seven World Cup matches and scored two goals. She also found Lavelle in space against the Netherlands, where Lavelle punished the Dutch. Just over 20 minutes later, Mewis and the USWNT were then crowned World Cup Champions.
U.S. Soccer’s Female Player of the Year
In 2020, Sam Mewis played eight of the nine USWNT matches. She scored four goals through back-to-back braces in Olympic Qualifying. Mewis was not her usual self in the NWSL Challenge Cup. But she soon returned to top form when she joined Gareth Taylor’s City.
Mewis took almost no time to introduce herself. In the FA Cup semi-final, City and Arsenal were tied at one. Mewis turned past her defender and burst through the center of the pitch. The ball made it to Ellen White, who fell but was able to return the ball to Mewis. The American then put her foot through it and sent City to Wembley.
City’s star midfielder showed she had a knack for big goals. She went on to open the scoring at Wembley, becoming the third-ever American to score in the FA Cup Final (second American Woman). Manchester City went on to lift the cup with a 3-1 extra-time win over Everton. Mewis also notched the winner in the first leg of City’s UEFA Women’s Champions League match against Göteborg.
What sets her apart?
Sam Mewis makes extremely intelligent runs which help her to score important goals. She arrives late at the top of the box and is able to create just enough space to shoot with her dribbling ability.
Mewis is also lovingly referred to as ‘The Tower of Power.’ The 1.83 m midfielder is almost undefendable in the air. She combines her ability to make clever runs with her aerial ability and gives defenders nightmares on set-pieces.Embed from Getty Images
Important goals always grab the spotlight but Mewis’s game is much more than goals. This was on full display in the recent matches against Colombia, even while scoring her first-ever hat-trick and grabbing an assist.
Mewis has become one of the first names on the team sheet under Vlatko Andonovski. She started both Colombia matches. Mewis was the right-sided midfielder when Horan was in the midfield and and the left-sided midfielder when Lavelle slotted in.
She is one of the most well-rounded midfielders in the world. Mewis is a true box-to-box midfielder. She makes her presence felt on both sides of the ball whether she is operating as more of a 10 or an 8. She has a great engine, exceptional close control, and a good range of passing. But the attribute that sets her apart from every other player in the world is her ability to drive at defenses from midfield.
Mewis doesn’t usually draw loads of attention with her dribbling ability. She is surrounded by players like Horan and Lavelle who use roulettes, clever turns and nutmegs to get by defenders. Mewis just taps the ball quickly from one foot to another. She does so at the perfect time to avoid a defender’s challenge.
She is also unmatched when she receives the ball before driving into space. Mewis uses a slow jog to position herself at the perfect angle to receive a pass. As soon as the ball is at her feet she takes one touch and is off, sprinting at the defense.
A well-rounded athlete
“I think [Sam Mewis] probably is the best player in our team right now,” said Megan Rapinoe in her post-match interview following Mewis’s hat-trick. “I think going overseas was great for her to continue to get games. She’s really finding her game and coming into the sort of the prime of her career. And she just looks comfortable; she’s dominant all the time. She’s such a different player, I think, than any other player in the world.”Embed from Getty Images
Mewis picked up a knock during the second Colombia match but, according to Vlatko Andonovski, she said she was ‘fine.’ That’s good to know, as Mewis still has a lot of matches to play this year. Between club and country, she will play an integral role in several different competitions. Each game will allow her to grow as a player because, as scary as it sounds, Rapinoe and Andonovski think she can continue to improve.
“One thing about Sam is that she did what she did,” said Andonvski after the 4-0 win against Colombia. “[She] obviously played very well and scored goals, but I don’t think that’s her best. I really believe that Sam still has a lot [of room] to grow which is exciting for me, exciting for Sam, exciting for everyone, for the fans, for the whole country to have a player being so good but still with so much more room to grow and get better.”
What’s next for Sam Mewis?
2020 was a great year for Sam Mewis, but 2021 may be even better. She has solidified her place in the USWNT and in Europe as a dominant, ball progressing midfielder who can score goals. As the USWNT starts to usher in a new era of players, Mewis has the potential not only to be a veteran leader but the face of the best team in the world.
She continues to grow as a player. If she is able to maintain this level throughout the season with Manchester City and through the Olympic cycles, her club and country will benefit and the conversation around Sam Mewis will change. She will not just be a top player but she will be in the conversation as the best, most complete player in the world and could add some of the most prized individual trophies to her already overflowing trophy cabinet.