Sam Mewis spent 20 years working toward winning the Women’s World Cup with the United States national team. Now that her goal has been accomplished, she is waiting for everything to sink in.
“I don’t really feel it’s hit me, yet,” Mewis said Tuesday, two days after the Americans took a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final in Lyon, France. “I think in moments it has. This morning [the team appeared on the ‘Good Morning America’ show], then there’s the parade [Wednesday morning]. I’m definitely excited that I’ll be able to decompress for a couple days.”
The 26-year-old Mewis will not be able to completely relax just yet. There will be the ticker-tape parade in New York, followed by an appearance at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles that night. Mewis hopes to squeeze in a return to her Hanson home, where she and her sister, Kristie, watched the US team win the 1999 World Cup and decided to emulate that accomplishment. Then, Mewis will resume the NWSL season with the North Carolina Courage. Mewis and teammates Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, and Jessica McDonald will miss a home game against the Seattle Reign on Saturday but are scheduled to visit the Chicago Red Stars on July 21.
As for declining an invitation to visit the White House, which captain Megan Rapinoe said she would do, Mewis said:
“We haven’t talked about it as a team. And I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I stand by my teammates that said they would not go. I’ll support the women who have kind of led the way in saying they wouldn’t go.”
That stick-togetherness served the US team well as the team overcame five of Europe’s best teams in winning the title for the fourth time.
“Absolutely, we supported each other,” Mewis said. “I think it helps if your leaders have integrity and you’re a close group and because I really believe they’re good people and know what do.”
The US team presented the most experienced team in the WWC. Mewis, Dahlkemper, Dunn, and former Boston Breakers Rose Lavelle and Alyssa Naeher made their first appearance as title game starters and could make up a foundation for the 2023 team.
Mewis said the younger players followed the lead of their veteran teammates.
“A lot of those girls are leaders and knew what to expect, and that really helped,” Mewis said.
Mewis, who made five starts, played a major part as the United States won seven successive games in France. She earned the starting role with some strong performances in preparation matches. She scored twice in the WWC opener, a 13-0 win over Thailand. After that, Mewis sat out a 3-0 victory over Chile, then paired with Julie Ertz in a holding midfield role in four of the final five contests.
Mewis combined shutdown defending ability with transition game instincts to establish her place in the lineup. In a 2-1 win over Spain, she won early physical duels, helped contain Spanish playmaker Jenni Hermoso, and took on an attacking role in the Round of 16. She helped set up a Rapinoe goal in a 2-1 victory over France in the quarterfinals. She entered as a 65th-minute substitute for Lavelle to help the US team close out a 2-1 victory over England in the semifinals. Then she returned to the starting lineup in place of Lindsey Horan for the title game.
“Given the opportunity, I hoped whatever role I played the team would have success,” Mewis said. “It’s all about timing. I obviously worked really hard to make the roster, and I’m grateful for all the help my teammates gave me. We have so many talented players on the team.”
The US team had to confront criticism for overzealous celebrations in the Thailand game and potential political controversy involving a conflict between Rapinoe and President Trump.
“We handled it professionally,” Mewis said. “Every game was close. We played a lot of talented teams, and it was a tough tournament. I’m proud of the way we did it, and it showed the way we are as a team.”
Mewis’s parents, Bob and Melissa, attended the group stage matches, then returned to France for the final. Bob Mewis coached Sam and Kristie (a former US national teamer now playing for the Houston Dash) on youth teams.
“They came back [to France], and I’m so glad they did,” Mewis said of her parents. “I just feel I owe them so much, and they’re a huge reason why I’m here.
“Hopefully, the end of the week, I can get there [Hanson]. It’s everything to me. I’ve got so many people to thank, my parents. It’s because I know so many people in my hometown believed in me, and it is so much fun to see them watching and enjoying this. I do have to get back to my team [the Courage]. We’ll see what happens.”