Women's Football

KDB, Lloyd & a documentary inspire blockbuster Mewis move

USA's Sam Mewis celebrates
© Getty Images
  • Sam Mewis jonis Manchester City in one of biggest-ever WSL signings
  • Carli Lloyd, Kevin De Bruyne and a documentary inspired the move
  • "The culture of football is so incredible," said Mewis of England

Don’t you just love it when mom gets a new job? That’s what puppy Finn Mewis must be thinking as he looks forward to strolls by the West Pennine Moors, the Peak District and the Ogden Reservoirs.

Seriously, though, his mother’s job will be anything but a stroll. FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019 winner Sam Mewis, however, wasn’t satisfied sunbathing in her comfort zone and wanted to test herself in overseas waters and at a club where major honours are not a wish but a demand.

“It’s like winning the lottery,” said the 27-year-old. “Just to be here in England, where the culture of football is so incredible.

“The opportunity came along at a really great time – as soon as I heard about the chance of coming to play for Manchester City, I was immediately interested. The club is one of the best in the world and I've heard such good things about the women's side as a whole and the incredible facilities. I've followed the men's team too for a long time. I love watching Kevin De Bruyne.

“This is a really cool, unique and amazing opportunity in my career and I'm so excited to come and see Manchester as a city, be a part of this incredible club and hopefully help the team achieve their goals.

“It’s a city that loves soccer so much. I watched the Amazon series on Man City and it was so cool. I watched it again recently when I was deciding to come and I was like: ‘Oh my God, I have to go!' ”

The end of an era

Mewis scored in the semi-final and Championship as the Western New York Flash surprisingly won the NWSL in 2016. Thereafter, the 6ft tall midfielder was the heartbeat of the team, now rebranded as North Carolina Courage, that won back-to-back Championships in 2018 and 2019.

The biggest signing in WSL history?

City coaxing Steph Houghton from Arsenal in 2014 was big. The signing of Carli Lloyd, albeit on loan, perhaps even bigger. Arsenal too lured a FIFA Women’s World Cup winner, Heather O’Reilly, to England, while Chelsea turned heads by contracting Ramona Bachmann and Crystal Dunn in 2017.

But the Blues’ seizing of Sam Kerr last year consensually topped them all. Is the signing of a reigning Women’s World Cup winner, at the peak of her powers, even bigger?

Following legend Lloyd’s lead

Lloyd spent four months on loan at City in 2017. The forward who scored a hat-trick for USA in the Canada 2015 Final was on target as the Citizens beat Birmingham City 4-1 in the FA Women’s Cup decider at Wembley.

“Carli Lloyd has just raved about her experiences here – the facilities, the girls and the team,” said Mewis. “So obviously it's a huge opportunity for me and that makes it so exciting.”

The state of City

Since conquering the WSL for the first time in 2016, Manchester City have finished runners-up in each of the last three seasons – behind Chelsea in 2017/18 and 2019/20 and Arsenal in between. In the UEFA Women’s Champions League, they have been KO’d by Atletico Madrid in the last two seasons, in the Round of 32 and Round of 16 respectively.

A dream midfield?

Mewis will enhance an already-stellar engine room featuring 149-times-capped England international Jill Scott, fellow Lionesses Keira Walsh and Lauren Hemp, and Scot Caroline Weir.

"The midfield is so good and so talented, so I will have to earn my stripes here,” Mewis told BBC Sport. “Keira Walsh is one I have a lot of respect for – all the Lionesses, I know, are so good and so talented. If she's anything like Julie Ertz, it will be great to be on her team rather than playing against her. I will be able to learn a lot from these girls."

She added on Manchester City's official website: “I have a lot of respect for Jill Scott. I know we’re both tall and we’re going to be in midfield together. It will be really good to play with somebody like that.

"I have so much respect for her and the longevity of her career and how she’s played at such a high level for such a long time. We definitely have a similar stature, wanting to be an aerial presence on the field.

“I’m really excited to see how I fit in with the group. Maybe I’ll bring a bit of a unique style being American and having played a really high-pressure, attacking-oriented style in the last few years.”

What they said…

Paul Riley, North Carolina Courage coach, to the WRALSportsFan podcast: “She wanted my blessing to go, and I gave her my blessing because I think it’s important for her. The fans might be disappointed because she could miss a couple of months of the [NWSL] season, but if you get a better player out of it, then it’s worth what she’s doing. We’ll survive, we’ll continue to grow the club, and wait for a better Sam to come back. I would almost make one guarantee: she has not played her last game for North Carolina.”

Gareth Taylor, Manchester City coach: “We’re thrilled to welcome Sam to Manchester City and we’re thoroughly looking forward to working with her. As well as being a World Cup winner, she will bring a wealth of experience and quality to our squad and I’m really pleased that she feels she can fulfil her ambitions with us. She will also be a fantastic addition to the Barclays FA Women’s Super League as a whole, and we can’t wait to see her pull on a blue shirt for the first time.”

Did you know?

  • Sam is the younger sister of Kristie Mewis, who recently won the NWSL Challenge Cup with Houston Dash.
  • When they were kids, their father, Bob, would work side-jobs to help afford their football expenses. What a man!
  • Mewis married long-term boyfriend Pat Johnson at Boston City Hall in 2018. They recently adopted puppy Finn.
  • The new City No22 played the third-most minutes during the USWNT’s France 2019 conquest behind Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz.
  • Mewis registered three assists at the tournament – only Sherida Spitse of the Netherlands made more.
  • Mewis revealed fellow North American Janine Beckie got in touch with her when she discovered they would be team-mates at City. "She reached out to me and I was asking her what to pack,” Mewis told the club’s official website. “She was super helpful and said, ‘Yoga pants, sweatpants and sweatshirts!’”
USA’s other Mewis keeping the dream alive

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USA’s other Mewis keeping the dream alive

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