Sam Mewis: The Olympics is the ‘chip on my shoulder’

Samantha Mewis #3 of the United States shoots and scores from the penalty spot during the second half against Colombia on 18 January 2021 (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Samantha Mewis #3 of the United States shoots and scores from the penalty spot during the second half against Colombia on 18 January 2021 (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

The 2020 US Player of the Year narrowly missed out on making the Rio 2016 Games squad, but this could be the year that the footballer plays alongside her older sister on the world’s biggest sporting stage.

While an ankle injury sustained during a friendly again Colombia in January has kept Mewis sidelined during the SheBelieves Cup, she has watched her fellow United States teammates win their games against Canada (1-0) and Brazil (2-0).

It is the first tournament for the United States since last year’s SheBelieves Cup, where they lifted the title for the third time in five editions of the tournament.

For the United States, they appear to be on the right path with less than 150 days until the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, where they will be looking to return to the podium after missing out in Rio 2016 – the first time in their history.

One national team player who hopes to be in coach Vlatko Andonovski’s squad is midfielder Sam Mewis.

“That's been one of the chips on my shoulder, so it’s a big one,” the three-time NWSL champion told FIFA.com about wanting to be in Tokyo this coming summer. “I was very close to making the squad for Rio, totally understood why I didn’t, but it has definitely given me some added motivation to play my part in Tokyo. The Olympics is something I’ve dreamed about my whole life.”

Mewis was an alternate for the United States and travelled with the team to Brazil. Reflecting on the experience in an interview with American Soccer Now in 2017, the then 24-year-old believes it was a turning point in her career.

“I think it was eye-opening for me and I'm grateful that I was able to go through it and be able to see it that way because I think I'll look back on that and say maybe that was a turning point,” she said.

Since then, Mewis has proved to be a mainstay in the national team with 70 caps and 21 goals – two of which came during the USA’s 4-0 win over Mexico in the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship to seal their ticket to Tokyo 2020.

Siblings, teammates, and friends

Most siblings could probably attest to bickering and the Mewis sisters were no different. Being part of the USA set-up from a young age, competing in tournaments across the globe as teenagers and living away from home, wasn’t always easy.

However, these days it’s a different story as the younger of the Mewis sisters, Sam, told FIFA.com.

“My mum always says, ‘Thank God they’re friends now!’,” she laughed. “At those youth tournaments, during our high school years, there was a lot of bickering.

“I think it was just tough for us to be so similar, doing the same thing, going down the same path and finding that, as sisters, we were constantly being compared to each other by people on the outside.

“I think now we can see a lot better what an amazing thing it is... We really relish how cool and unique that is. I definitely feel that Kristie is my best friend and understands me better than anyone.”

But it was during a 4-0 win over Colombia in January, Sam scored her first career hat-trick before Kirstie, who had only returned to the national team in 2020 after a six year absence, also made a brace.

It was a surreal moment as the pair also became the first sisters to score in the same match for the women’s national team.

“I’d subbed off at the time Kristie was coming on and, when she scored, I remember wondering, ‘What are our parents thinking right now?’ I asked them later and my mum said she was crying because she was just so proud and happy,” 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup winner Mewis said.

“But I also know that I can speak for both Kristie and myself when I say that we want more.

“We’ll remember that night so fondly but we both want to make the Olympic team and win a gold medal, and I’d love it if we could do that together.”

If the United States are able to secure gold in the Japanese capital, they will become the first women’s team to win the World Cup and Olympic titles in consecutive years.

New team, new colours

After five seasons in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), where she won three titles with the New York Flash (2016) and North Carolina Courage (2018, 2019), Mewis joined fellow US team member Rose Lavelle at FA WSL club Manchester City in August 2020 before Abby Dahlkemper joined in January.

“I thought coming here was a wonderful opportunity to grow and evolve my game, and the whole experience – playing in English football and in the Champions League – has been so fulfilling,” the Massachusetts native said of the opportunity to grow as a player.

“One of the coolest parts is that there’s so many competitions: you go from a league game to the FA Cup to the Champions League. It’s awesome to have such variety and so many trophies to play for.”

And it’s been a successful start in England for Mewis with Manchester City capturing the 2020 FA Women’s Cup in November with the American scoring the opening goal in a 3-1 win in extra time over Everton.

The United States will face Argentina in the final game of the SheBelieves Cup on Thursday morning (25 January 9am JST).