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Sam Mewis, once named best women's soccer player in the world, retires due to injury

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 29: Sam Mewis #3 of the United States salutes the crowd after the second game of the USWNT Victory Tour against Portugal at Lincoln Financial Field on August 29, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Sam Mewis will still stay close to the game she loves. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) (Mitchell Leff via Getty Images)

Sam Mewis was heralded as the world's best player after Team USA's 2019 Women's World Cup win. Now, the 31-year-old is retiring due to ongoing knee issues.

"I plan to share more about the journey of my injury someday," she said via social media. "I know that there are many athletes who have faced the unique struggle of stepping away from the sport early and I think these stories deserve to be told — and heard."

Mewis' second act is dedicated to helping tell the stories she mentioned. She's already started a new position as editor-in-chief of women’s soccer coverage for the Men In Blazers Media Network. In the role, she'll be responsible for a new vertical called "The Women’s Game," according to Sports Business Journal.

Before joining the National Women's Soccer League, Mewis won an NCAA championship with UCLA. She was drafted fourth overall by the Western New York Flash in 2015 and went on to win three NWSL titles and the 2020 FA Cup with Manchester City. She recorded 24 goals and 10 assists in 83 international appearances.

It was the 2019 Women’s World Cup victory with the U.S. Women's National Team that pushed Mewis and her talent to center stage. Analysis company The Equalizer deemed her to have been the best player in the tournament, statistically. In March 2021, ESPN named her the best women’s player in the world.

It was remarkable. Mewis went from a player who didn't make the cut for the 2015 USWNT World Cup or 2016 Rio Olympics, to a star whom former USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski called "a true example of what the USWNT stands for."

But amid all the success, the "Tower of Power" would be hampered by a seemingly routine hit she took years prior. The American midfielder was slide tackled as she stretched her right leg toward the ball during a friendly against Canada on Nov. 12, 2017. The injury kept her sidelined for six months. By January 2023, Mewis was on her second knee surgery stemming from the contact.

"I think that my injury, unfortunately, just doesn't allow me to play at the level that I would need to play at, and it's taken me a really long time to accept that that is the case," told People Magazine.

Mewis played for the Kansas City Current in addition to the USWNT. She'll dedicate her next endeavor to helping to grow interest in the many facets of the sport.

"American soccer fans know the U.S. Women's National Team, and maybe they know the NWSL, but there are so many stories that occasionally we'll latch onto," she said. "Stories from the World Cup or from these teams who are fighting for equal pay, or things like that that I want to centralize and really bring them to life to, hopefully, a global audience."