A brief word on Sam Mewis' retirement

The 31-year-old American has hung up her boots after two years of battling chronic knee injuries. Cheers to you Sam.

A brief word on Sam Mewis' retirement
Houston, TX — Sam Mewis celebrates scoring a trademark header | Courtesy of the USWNT

Sam Mewis — 'The Tower of Power1' — was often unmarkable. Remarkably so. No one could pick her up on her day.

You’d see her coming. But that doesn’t mean you could stop her.

Entirely cutting. Full of big moments. A unique, patient, subtle, immense, and complete player.

It is gutting that we didn't get more of her on the pitch2 but find comfort in knowing she'll be ever present in the game, off the pitch, for years to come.

The 31-year-old from Hanson, Massachusetts announced on Friday that she would be officially retiring from football after a two-and-a-half-year battle to return to the pitch following chronic knee injuries.

“I plan to share more about the journey of my injury someday,” Mewis said in a heartfelt statement. “I know that there are many athletes who have faced the unique struggle of stepping away early and I think these stories deserve to be told.”

Along with the announcement of her retirement came the news she would be joining Men In Blazers digital media coverage of women’s football worldwide.

For me, my mind wanders to watching Sam Mewis live in Houston, Texas in 2021.

It sticks out partially because it was an exceptionally sticky day. The temperature was 34C (90F) and the football wilted in the blaze. The match, a very ‘Vlatko-ball’ turgid 1-0 friendly win over Portugal in the summer of 2021, a few months before the Tokyo Olympics.

Portugal stuck to the task, much like they did at the World Cup, and made life very difficult for the Americans. Tidy on the ball, no errors. Grafty, cunning out of possession.

At halftime and fulltime, I had to peel myself off the plastic and pleather cushioned seats in the press box balcony. Humidity clung to your brow and shoulders like a wet blanket. The football? Similarly sopped.

With the score, and life in general, baking at 0-0, Mewis appeared like a six-foot breath of cold air and nodded in the winning goal for the USA insouciantly from a corner kick. Ah, action.

Now, it’s not a spectacular goal. The delivery from Christen Press was perhaps the most skilled part. Mewis was not required to do more than just stand in the right spot and glance the ball into the net.

And Portugal, to their discredit, chose not to mark the most deadly aerial threat in the women’s game this Millennium.

Oh how it was needed though. The United States. The 12,000 people. in the stadium. This journalist. Mewis herself. Corner after corner after corner had taken place that evening to no avail. And then we got that one. Something lively.

It was Mewis’ 22nd international goal, her third last for her country, her penultimate strike on U.S. soil. The very final goal came at the Olympics, in a 2-2 draw against the Netherlands. Another header.

With the score at 1-0 to the Dutch, Mewis ignites a move in midfield by sending the ball out wide to teammate and friend Lynn Williams. The forward returns the favour and picks out Mewis, who has continued her run into the box, with a magisterial cross. This one requires more skill, a different body shape. Less height, less power, more finesse.

Whittling memories of Mewis on the pitch down to headed goals belies everything she brought to multiple phases of play. Her tackling, her pressing choices, her smart vertical passes, and her positioning were essential to the USA being untouchable in the late 2010s.

The USA has missed a player with her fluidity so greatly since her knee started acting up at the beginning of 2022. I implore you to read this article by the brilliant Andre Carlisle about just how much the Americans miss Sam Mewis, if you are interested in the topic.

READ: What’s really wrong with the USWNT?

And yet, there was still something alluring about the lofted ball floating into the danger zone, with Mewis lurking to meet it and punish the oppo.

Thwack. A special move. But also a rescue act. Like finding some forgotten money down the back of the sofa, or in the pocket of a coat, just when you needed it.

Even an empty Wembley was treated to the phenomena when Mewis cannoned the ball with her cranium in the 2020 FA Cup final.

Mewis’ spectacular ability to appear when needed was also echoed off the pitch. Her podcast ‘Snacks’ (2021-2023) with co-host/teammate Williams, was a refreshing and necessary players media outlet. As life giving as it was charming and hilarious.

To know that she will continue in the space is welcoming. Mewis is a good egg, who hasn’t shied away from supporting issues that go beyond her experience too.

The down-to-earth player who could leap to the heavens. That’s Mewis. Just now with a mic.

  1. Mewis’ nickname was coined by her sister, and fellow footballer, Kristie.

  2. If you’re wondering what Sam Mewis won in her illustrious career as a player, here is the full list: NCAA Champion (2013), NWSL Champion (2018,2019), NWSL Shield (2017,2018,2019), FA Cup (2020), World Cup (2019).