Sam Mewis, a U.S. World Cup starter and North Carolina Courage standout, signed with English club Manchester City on Monday, the first national team player to pursue opportunities overseas in the absence of a normal National Women’s Soccer League season.
“This is an incredible opportunity for me to step outside my comfort zone and play overseas for a world-class club,” she said.
Terms were not disclosed, but typically U.S. women’s team players return within a year. The Courage will retain her NWSL rights.
Manchester City did not have to pay a transfer fee because Mewis is under contract with the U.S. Soccer Federation, not the Courage. She will relinquish her NWSL salary but retain her contract with the federation to play for the national team.
Manchester City is among a small number of European clubs willing and able to spend on high-end female players. It will open the Women’s Super League on Sept. 6 at Aston Villa and enter the UEFA Women’s Champions League in November.
Had the NWSL conducted the season as planned, culminating in November, Mewis almost certainly would have remained stateside. But because of the coronavirus pandemic’s hard-hitting impact in the United States, the league canceled the regular season and, instead, held a month-long, summer tournament in greater Salt Lake City.
Teams will regroup next week for the possibility of friendlies and other unofficial competitions, but for the most part, the NWSL is expected to remain dormant until next spring. The national team is not likely to play again until 2021.
“I really feel like it’s a great opportunity for her to play games, because I don’t know how many games she’s going to play here,” Courage Coach Paul Riley told WRALSportsFan. “I think the progress of a player can never be stopped, especially one like Sam.”
Other national team players could follow suit. Washington Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle was weighing an offer from Manchester City, though an ankle injury that required a walking boot seems to have dimmed those prospects.
Over the years, Carli Lloyd (Manchester City), Crystal Dunn (Chelsea), Alex Morgan (Olympique Lyonnais) and Morgan (Brian) Gautrat (Olympique Lyonnais) have had short-term stints in Europe. Lindsey Horan began her pro career with Paris Saint-Germain before signing with the Portland Thorns in 2016.
Born in Weymouth, Mewis grew up in Hanson and attended Whitman-Hanson Regional High School. She then attended UCLA.
Mewis, 27, played five years for the Courage organization, which moved to the Raleigh area from Rochester, N.Y., in 2017. She was part of three NWSL championships, including 2018 and ’19.
At the World Cup in France last year, the Massachusetts-born midfielder appeared in six of seven matches (five starts) and scored twice in the 13-0 blowout of Thailand in the group opener. She assisted on Lavelle’s goal in the final against the Netherlands.
“As well as being a World Cup winner, she will bring a wealth of experience and quality to our squad,” Manchester City Manager Gareth Taylor said. “I’m really pleased that she feels she can fulfill her ambitions with us.”