FIFA Women's World Cup
Sam Mewis on going from USWNT spark plug to superfan for Women's World Cup
FIFA Women's World Cup

Sam Mewis on going from USWNT spark plug to superfan for Women's World Cup

Updated Jul. 25, 2023 12:55 p.m. ET

When the United States Women's National Team took off for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in New Zealand this week, midfielder Kristie Mewis was on the plane. But her younger sister Sam — a playmaking midfielder who was a key part of the 2019 squad that won the World Cup title in France — was not.

Sam Mewis has known for a while that she would not be part of the 2023 USWNT World Cup squad, announcing in January that she would be out indefinitely due to another major surgery on a lingering knee injury. Still, she is supporting the team however she can, whether it means regular texts with Kristie and forward Lynn Williams (Sam's best friend and podcast co-host), or representing the team stateside at events like the Gatorade National Player of the Year Awards in Los Angeles earlier this week.

"I've just been telling them to just keep going," Sam Mewis told FOX Sports. "It's been, I think for them, a really stressful time. So my advice was just, ‘Keep your head down, keep doing everything that you can, you’ll get a break when it's over, and it will be worth it when you win.'"

Mewis was there to celebrate Ransford Gyan of New Jersey and Kennedy Fuller of Texas, the 2022-23 Gatorade National Players of the Year in boys' and girls' soccer, respectively. Gatorade says it hands the awards to top high school athletes who meet three pillars of criteria — athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character. For Fuller, it may be a sign of things to come. Alyssa Thompson, who was named Gatorade National Player of the Year in girls' soccer just two years ago, is now a member of the USWNT 2023 World Cup squad as an 18-year-old.


Of course, a win in this World Cup would mean more than just a validation of all the hard work the USWNT has put during this cycle. It would make the USWNT the first men's or women's team in history to win three FIFA World Cups in a row. 

But the pressure to once again make history is not the only challenge Mewis sees for the current USWNT squad on its quest for a three-peat.

"At the same time as that pressure, it's also that the competition is better than ever before," Mewis said. "Global soccer is improving every year. I think the U.S. welcomes that. I think they want to play against the best, they want the challenge, and they perform best under pressure. They perform best when they're really being pushed to play their very, very best. So I think they're welcoming the pressure and welcoming the challenge."

Several younger players will be called on to fill the void left by injuries to crucial players such as Mewis, striker Mallory Swanson and center back Becky Sauerbrunn. There are 14 players on the USWNT's 23-player roster receiving World Cup call-ups for the first time, an experience Mewis knows better than most.

USWNT midfielder Sam Mewis poses with 2023 Gatorade National Girls' Soccer Player of the Year Kennedy Fuller (second from left) and Fuller's parents before the 2023 Gatorade NPOY award ceremony on July 11. (Courtesy of Gatorade)

"It's such a whirlwind," Mewis said. "You do really have to rely on your training. I think the U.S. Women's National Team trains really hard and has really high standards and camps for a reason, and it's so they can go into tournaments like this and perform at that highest level under pressure. So I have full confidence in those younger players."

[Who could be the breakout star for this young, talented USWNT squad?]

Mewis plans to watch every game live from her east coast home, setting her alarm for the early kickoffs and staying up late for the evening ones. It's allowed her to find a new purpose for herself in this tournament, despite it being far from the one she initially envisioned.

"Just trying to find the balance, making sure you ask for help when you need it," Mewis said. "And if you are in a moment of adversity, to maybe try to find a new purpose, so I've been trying to do that. I'm really, really excited to have an opportunity to just cheer on the team this summer."

Mewis will get her first chance to do so when the USWNT opens 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup group stage play on July 21 at 9 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App.


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