At least one of the U.S. women's national team's top midfield stars is heading to England.
North Carolina Courage standout Sam Mewis has signed with Manchester City Women, the English club announced on Monday. Mewis, a three-time NWSL champion and a fixture on the USA's 2019 Women's World Cup championship squad, has her league rights retained by the Courage should she return to the league. Neither Man City nor the Courage announced the terms of the deal, but The Athletic had previously reported that it was to be a one-year pact. Washington Spirit standout Rose Lavelle is reportedly mulling an offer from Man City as well, according to The Athletic and The Washington Post, and could make it two U.S. fixtures leaving their NWSL clubs for England.
“Sam has been a tremendous leader for our club and her development has been astronomical,” NC Courage coach Paul Riley said in a statement. “She has improved her game in every department and I’m super proud of the player she has become. This step to Manchester City is important in many aspects. She gets to be uncomfortable again, her role will change, different tactics, and she will be shaped even further as she strives to become the best box-to-box midfielder in the world. Most important for Sam right now are competitive games especially leading into an Olympic year, and she will be able to play 20 games over the next six to seven months, which is hugely valuable.
“I’m excited to see Sam continue on her quest to be the best and we will continue to support her every step of the way,” Riley added. “We also look forward to the day she puts her NC Courage uniform back on.”
The Women's Super League power, which has previously been home to U.S. star Carli Lloyd, will compete in the 2020-2021 Women's Champions League and will be among the favorites in its domestic league as well. Man City was leading the WSL table by a point when the league's 2019-20 season was abandoned due to the pandemic, but it had played a game more than Chelsea. With the title decided by points per game, Man City wound up with a second-place finish.
“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," Mewis said in a Man City statement. "I've followed the men's team too for a long time. 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.”
The development is significant for the NWSL, whose future after the completion of the Challenge Cup tournament is unclear. Clubs may play games in their home markets at some point in 2020, but there's nothing tangible on the calendar right now. That, naturally, would leave players itching to compete–and desperate to stay in form in a year leading into the Olympics–looking for alternatives, and the European leagues that are starting up are a desirable option.
With Man City Women, Mewis will team with the likes of England stars Ellen White, Steph Houghton, Jill Scott and Georgia Stanway and Canadian forward Janine Beckie under manager Gareth Taylor.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Sam to Manchester City and we’re thoroughly looking forward to working with her," Taylor said. “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 fulfill her ambitions with us."