Sam Mewis will not return to the Kansas City Current, with the club announcing her departure on social media.

The team account posted an image of Mewis, along with the caption: “Thank you for being part of this club @sammymewy, we wish you all the best.” The 31-year-old midfielder enters the NWSL offseason as a free agent.

Mewis was traded to Kansas City in late 2021, but she made just two appearances for the club as part of the NWSL Challenge Cup in March 2022. The 31-year-old midfielder has been sidelined since then with a chronic knee injury, and she detailed her ongoing recovery on a recent episode of the “Snacks” podcast.

The initial injury occurred during a November 2017 match for the U.S. women’s national team, after which she missed roughly six months. Even while dealing with the “really serious injury” to her knee cartilage, she returned to the USWNT and the NWSL, starring at the 2019 World Cup and winning two NWSL titles with the North Carolina Courage.

Mewis played through the injury until 2021, when her knee stopped responding positively to rehabilitation. She won a bronze medal at the 2021 Olympics and played those two matches for the Current, but has not played since then.

She underwent knee surgery in January 2023, which followed an arthroscopic surgery in August 2021. Mewis described the most recent procedure as “a big deal,” which is why she remained mum about it up until earlier this month. The surgery placed cartilage donor grafts in her knee, which she called a “really difficult decision.”

“I felt like I had taken all of these steps to try to get back to playing and I just kind of kept hitting a wall,” she told her “Snacks” co-host Lynn Williams. “I kept failing in my rehab and having to start over and try all these new things and get more injections.

“And we just had reached the end of the line, where I didn’t like any of the options that were offered to me, which were basically stop or try and get this big surgery. And so it took me like months to make this decision

“There were no guarantees when it came to the surgery either. It was a big surgery. I was on crutches for eight weeks and no impact for, like, eight months.”

She added on “Snacks” that her goal for the future is to “get as healthy as possible.” She’s still in the gym and attending physical therapy, and she is working toward getting her knee back “as good as it can get.”

Sam Mewis provided an update on her knee injury, which has kept her off the pitch for the U.S. women’s national team since 2021.

The USWNT and Kansas City Current midfielder underwent a second surgery on her right knee in January 2023, and she detailed her progress before and since the procedure on the latest episode of the “Snacks” podcast for Just Women’s Sports.

Her goal right now is to “get as healthy as possible,” she told co-host Lynn Williams. But Mewis, 31, described the months leading up to her decision to have the second surgery as “one of the lowest points of my life.”

The initial injury occurred during a November 2017 match for the USWNT, after which she was sidelined for about six months. While she knew she was dealing with “a really serious injury” to her knee cartilage, she returned and became an integral part of the 2019 World Cup-winning squad.

Mewis managed to play through the injury until 2021, when her knee stopped responding positively to rehabilitation, she said. She played in the Olympics, winning the bronze medal in August, but has not played for the national team since then. She played in two preseason Challenge Cup matches for the Current in March 2022, and those mark her latest appearances in a professional match.

As time went on, she kept getting presented with “worse and worse choices and options” for treatment, she said.

“I think that was the lowest point, I just felt so frozen and numb by the prospect of not getting to have the career I thought I was going to have and I thought I had worked for,” she said.

After considering all her options, she chose to undergo another knee surgery in January, which followed an arthroscopic surgery in August 2021.

Mewis described the procedure as “a big deal,” which is why she hasn’t talked about it much to this point. The surgery placed cartilage donor grafts in her knee, which she said was a “really difficult decision.”

“I felt like I had taken all of these steps to try to get back to playing and I just kind of kept hitting a wall,” she said. “I kept failing in my rehab and having to start over and try all these new things and get more injections.

“And we just had reached the end of the line, where I didn’t like any of the options that were offered to me, which were basically stop or try and get this big surgery. And so it took me like months to make this decision

“There were no guarantees when it came to the surgery either. It was a big surgery. I was on crutches for eight weeks and no impact for, like, eight months.”

Williams remained by her friend’s side as she made the decision.

“You didn’t know what the outcome of the surgery is going to be so you had to be in the right mental space to make sure you were OK with going through this really big, maybe life-changing thing,” Williams said, noting that it was hard to know how to support Mewis as she grappled with her injury.

But Mewis was glad to have Williams’ support, she said.

“I could not decide what to do. And I was so lucky to have you there with me as a friend. I just felt so conflicted,” she said, noting that she sought input from a number of surgeons. “I just wanted more opinions. I wanted somebody to tell me that there was another option and that they knew what I needed to do to fix it. I asked everybody’s opinion, I almost feel like I got too much information.

“And that made me even more conflicted. And I was really just sad. All I wanted was to play.”

Ultimately, Mewis opted for the surgery. She did her rehab at home, where she was surrounded by loved ones. And in hindsight, she believes that she made “the best decision I could with the options that I had.”

She also has gained a lot of perspective over the last couple of years, she said. Her goal now is to “get as healthy as possible.” She is still going to the gym and physical therapy, and she is working toward her goal of getting her knee back “as good as it can get.”

“It still isn’t ever like what I would have chosen,” Mewis said. “It’s so hard to talk about, because I’m in a better place now. So I’m almost laughing about it. But I really wasn’t well.”

Alex Loera was blindsided by her trade from the Kansas City Current to expansion team Bay FC, she wrote Wednesday in an Instagram caption.

The Current had told the 24-year-old defensive midfielder that she would be protected from the NWSL expansion draft on Dec. 15, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Instead, she was dealt to Bay FC, becoming the first player on the roster ahead of the team’s inaugural season in 2024.

In her Instagram post, Loera thanked the Current for “giving me the opportunity to live out my dream.” She was drafted by Kansas City in 2022 and made 30 appearances across her first two seasons. But the trade took her by surprise.

“I was not expecting this trade,” she wrote. “It is incredibly disheartening to know that this took place after I had expressed my feelings about the kind of loyal person I am and my desire to finish out the contract I had agreed to with KC. Nonetheless, thank you KC for everything.”

Loera’s contract runs through the 2025 NWSL season.

This isn’t the first time that Kansas City has shocked a player with a trade. The Current dealt Lynn Williams to Gotham FC ahead of the 2023 season for the No. 2 overall pick in the college draft.

Alex Loera becomes the first player to join NWSL expansion club Bay FC, arriving via trade from the Kansas City Current.

The 24-year-old defensive midfielder won the 2020 NCAA championship during her college career with Santa Clara, and she is thrilled to return to the Bay Area, she told reporters Wednesday. Bay FC cofounders Brandi Chastain, Aly Wagner, Danielle Slaton and Leslie Osborne also played for Santa Clara before starring for the USWNT.

“As soon as I heard that Bay FC could be a potential team in the league, I was so excited,” Loera said. “I was like, ‘Yep, I’m going to end up back here at some point.’ … So I am so excited. I cannot wait.”

Bay FC is set to start play in 2024, and Loera’s contract runs through 2025.

The Current received $175,000 in allocation funds and protection from Bay FC in the NWSL expansion draft on Dec. 15 in exchange for Loera. Bay FC and the Utah Royals will have the opportunity to select up to 12 players through the 12-round expansion draft, but the Current and the Orlando Pride already have acquired protection from Bay FC.

Bay FC general manager Lucy Rushton acknowledged that the team is excited to find a player with “Bay Area ties.” She also sees Loera as the perfect player with which the team can begin to build its roster.

“Alex is a competitor,” Rushton said. “She’s a winner, and she’s a leader in how she plays. So as a founding piece of our team, she really does epitomize everything that we’re looking for.”

Lindsey Horan is excited about the investment Michele Kang could bring to Olympique Lyonnais.

Kang, who already owns the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, is set to become the majority owner of the Lyon women’s team. In an interview with Pro Soccer Wire, Horan said that she’s met Kang “many times” and called her “amazing.”

“And I think her aspirations and the things that she’s doing in the world are insane,” the Lyon midfielder said. “She’s not just saying things to say them, or to hope that it could happen, she’s going and making them happen. What she’ll do with Lyon is going to be absolutely incredible.”

As she prepares to take control of the club, Kang has been vocal about her goals, which include building the women’s team its own training center. Kang also is exploring the possibility of repurposing a local rugby venue as the team’s home stadium.

Not many women’s teams have their own training facilities or their own stadiums. The NWSL’s Kansas City Current opened their own training complex in 2022, and they are in the process of building the first women’s soccer-specific stadium.

“Our team isn’t just attached to the men’s team,” Horan told Pro Soccer Wire. “Our team is in itself its own. To see some of these teams around the world now having their own training facilities, having their own stadiums — that’s what they deserve.

“We women work just as hard and we’re professionals just as much as the men. So at least we should have our own training facility. We should have all access to the things that we need, that I’m pretty sure most men’s clubs get, and to have our own stadium would be incredible as well.”

Lyon is set to kick off the UEFA Champions League group stage at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday. The six-match group stage runs through the end of January, with 16 teams divided into four groups. Lyon is in Group B with Austria’s St. Pölten, Norway’s SK Brann and the Czech Republic’s SK Slavia Prague.

The Kansas City Current are joining the NWSL’s youth movement.

The first signing of the Vlatko Andonovski era in Kansas City is 15-year-old Alex Pfeiffer, who joined the club on a three-year deal.

“Alex is a tremendous talent we are so excited to bring to the Current,” general manager Camille Ashton said in a news release. “We believe she has the ability to impact this team for many years to come and are thrilled she chose to take this next step in her career to continue her development with us in KC.”

According to The Athletic, the move to Kansas City has been in the works since last summer. Pfeiffer attended a talent identification camp with the Current, and discussions began with agents and her parents about going pro.

The Current kept an eye on Pfeiffer, who also has spent significant time in the U.S. youth national team pool at the U-15, U-16 and U-17 levels. As a member of the U-15 team, she won the 2022 Concacaf Championship.

“There definitely was talk of going to some colleges and even seeing what that environment was like,” Pfeiffer told The Athletic. “But I saw what KC was doing. I feel like that was going to push me even more than going to college for four years.”

At 15 years and 338 days, Pfeiffer is the fourth-youngest player ever signed to an NWSL club. In March, Melanie Barcenas (15 years and 138 days) and Chloe Ricketts (15 years and 283 days) signed with the San Diego Wave and Washington Spirit, respectively. Olivia Moultrie opened the doors for youth players when she signed with the Portland Thorns at 15 years and 286 days old in 2021.

“I am very excited that Alex will be joining our club,” Andonovski said. “This is a great start for our plans to strengthen the pro player pathway for this club and this region. Alex is someone who can be a great example for players everywhere and can help this club achieve our goals, both near and long-term.”

Vlatko Andonovski is back in Kansas City with the NWSL. And he returns to the league a better coach thanks to his experience with the U.S. women’s national team.

The Kansas City Current introduced Andonovski, 47, on Monday as their next head coach. He previously coached in the NWSL from 2013 to 2019, including five seasons with FC Kansas City from 2013 until 2017. He won two NWSL championships with the former Kansas City club, and he has maintained a home in Kansas City ever since.

In 2019, Andonovski was tasked with managing the USWNT, but his tenure with the national team came to an end in August following a disappointing result at the World Cup.

“Coaching the national team was a great opportunity individually for me,” he said Monday. “Selfishly, it was a great growth opportunity for me. When you’re surrounded with the staff that I was around, with some of the best players in the world, you have no choice but to better yourself on a daily basis and to get better in every opportunity that is given to you.

“And there’s no one or two things that I can point out, but the whole opportunity, the whole four-year tenure that I had was an opportunity for me to get better. I certainly believe that I got better and there will be moments in my new job, in my new position that I will use [that experience] and hopefully even do better than before.”

Losing in the Round of 16 at the World Cup was “tough” emotionally and that he “went through a tough time,” he said. While he initially considered taking a more extended break from coaching, the people of Kansas City and the vision of the club made him decide to return to the NWSL.

“One thing that hit me was actually how much this city, the people in the city, the friends and my neighbors were behind me and supportive of me,” he said. “And when I started the talks with [Current owners Angie and Chris Long], I was very happy about the vision and the goals, but I was also happy that all those opportunities were in front of me in the city that gave me comfort in my hardest times. And I’m very thankful for it. And I’m looking forward to repaying them.”

Still, the NWSL has changed since Andonovski last led a team. For one, the league is expanding, with four more teams set to join in the next three years.

There also is increasing investment in the league, with more fans than ever before and teams valued higher than ever before. And Kansas City is set to open the first-ever soccer stadium designed specifically for a women’s team, which is scheduled to open by the start of the 2024 season.

Andonovski understands that the league has changed “tremendously” in the time since he left, he said. But coaching the USWNT helped him stay connected with players. And he’s ready to be part of the league’s evolution.

“We have no choice as coaches, as a team to keep on evolving because the game itself evolves,” he said, noting that it’s changing “a lot more” and more quickly than ever before.

“In the past, it used to be World Cup to World Cup,” he continued. “Now the game moves so fast that it evolves on a yearly basis, and we have to keep up. And it’s not that we just have to keep up, we want to be ahead of it. We want to be ahead of everyone, we want to be trendsetters. We want to be able to create or build something that people will follow.”

Alex Morgan wants to show her friend Taylor Swift how much fun “real football” can be during the NWSL playoffs.

After leading the San Diego Wave to the NWSL Shield and the No. 1 seed in the postseason, Morgan issued the invitation to the 12-time Grammy-winning superstar.

“There is an open invitation, always,” she said. “American football games are fun, but real football is more fun I think.”

The NWSL endorsed Morgan’s message, posting the quote on social media with the caption: “What would happen if you just called Taylor up?” In a video with the U.S. women’s national team in April, the 34-year-old forward revealed Swift as the most famous contact in her phone.

Swift is a well-established friend of Morgan and fan of the USWNT. She hosted the 2015 World Cup-winning team on stage at her 1989 World Tour, and she announced Morgan’s place on the 2023 World Cup roster.

“I mean, she’s honestly one of the best humans that I’ve ever come across,” Morgan told Entertainment Tonight in July. “She is so supportive. She’s all about women empowerment. We both share our favorite number, number 13, born the same year, in 1989. We’ve just been really supportive of each other’s careers.”

Swift’s recent connection to the Kansas City Chiefs also could pull her into NWSL circles. She has been spending time with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, and she has been spotted at his games alongside Kansas City Current co-owner Brittany Mahomes. Mahomes already brought her husband, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, into the fold.

The Current pointed out the connection on social media, writing in response to the NWSL’s post: “Taylor Swift knows KC is the move.”

The 2023 Golden Boot race is nearing the finish line, with Portland Thorns forward Sophia Smith holding a one-goal lead over her nearest competitor.

Still, North Carolina Courage forward Kerolin (10 goals) would need a brace to overtake Smith (11 goals), as the reigning league MVP holds the tiebreaker. The final day of the 2023 regular season will decide the playoff and Golden Boot races.

Ahead of decision day, Just Women’s Sports takes a look back at the history of NWSL Golden Boot winners.

img
(Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

2022: Alex Morgan, San Diego Wave, 15 goals

In San Diego’s inaugural season in the NWSL, Morgan put on a show, tallying 15 goals in 17 games. A career-best for the star forward, the total included three braces, plus four goals in one game to tie an NWSL record.

img
(Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2021: Ashley Hatch, Washington Spirit, 10 goals

Hatch earned the 2021 Golden Boot with just 10 goals in 20 games, the lowest total needed to earn the award in league history. Her 10 goals were a career best, which Hatch has nearly matched with nine goals in 2023.

img
(Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2019: Sam Kerr, Chicago Red Stars, 18 goals

In 2019, Kerr broke her own single-season goal scoring record with 18 goals, a mark that still stands. She also won her third consecutive scoring title; no other player has won more than once. Kerr still stands alone atop the NWSL with 77 career goals, despite departing for the Women’s Super League after the 2019 season.

img
(Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2018: Sam Kerr, Chicago Red Stars, 16 goals

Kerr also won the scoring title in 2018, along the way becoming the first player to reach 50 goals in NWSL history. She finished the season with 59.

img
(Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

2017: Sam Kerr, Sky Blue FC, 17 goals

For Kerr’s first of three scoring titles, the Australian phenom set a single-season record that she broke herself two years later. Kerr scored 17 goals in 22 games, none of them on penalty kicks. She also became the first player in NWSL history to reach 50 career points.

img
(Lewis Gettier/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

2016: Lynn Williams, Western New York Flash, 11 goals

Lynn Williams capped her second NWSL season with the Golden Boot. For the first time in league history, two players atop the goals leaderboard, as Williams and Kealia Ohai Watt both finished with 11. But Williams held the tiebreaker, with five assists to Watt’s four.

img
(Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2015: Crystal Dunn, Washington Spirit, 15 goals

Dunn had a standout 2015 season, scoring 15 goals to take home the Golden Boot. At 23 years old, she also became the youngest player in league history to take home the league MVP award, a milestone eclipsed by Smith in 2022.

img
(Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2014: Kim Little, Seattle Reign FC, 16 goals

With 16 goals in 23 games, Little went on scoring tear. From May through June, Little scored a goal in six consecutive games. She had a goal against each NWSL team that season, including five against the Dash.

 

img
(Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2013: Lauren Holiday, FC Kansas City, 12 goals

The future Hall of Famer won the inaugural NWSL scoring title with 12 goals for FC Kansas City. She also ranked fourth in shots and shots on goal, registering a goal or an assist in 10 consecutive games. Holiday also was named league MVP in 2013.

Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams expressed their confusion over the NWSL’s reported decision to cancel its Challenge Cup tournament on the latest episode of their “Snacks” podcast.

The Challenge Cup started in 2020 as a replacement for the regular season during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It continued in 2021 and 2022 as a preseason tournament, then in 2023 it ran concurrently with the regular season. But the NWSL plans to abandon the tournament, The Equalizer reported in August.

While NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman denied that any final decision had been made ahead of the 2023 Challenge Cup final, the future of the tournament remains a question mark. According to The Equalizer’s report, the league plans to host a match between the NWSL Shield and the NWSL Championship winners instead.

Yet for Mewis, the Challenge Cup finally had found its rhythm in 2023, with matches taking place midweek and during the month-long World Cup break. Mewis is a midfielder for the U.S. women’s national team and the Kansas City Current, but she has been sidelined with a knee injury for the last two seasons.

“I think players were really on board with the Challenge Cup this year, not only because of the prize money, but also because that concentration of games came during the World Cup when there were a lot of players missing from the league,” Mewis said. “So I feel like it kind of lent itself perfectly to the season’s ebbs and flows. And next year would have been another great opportunity to do that during the Olympics. So I am curious about why it’s leaving, just as I think people were really starting to come around to it.”

Challenge Cup partner UKG committed record prize money this year: $1 million total. Williams also pointed out the sudden rise of the tournament, which would make its absence all the more obvious.

“It just felt like it went so high so quickly, and then all of a sudden, it’s over,” she said. “Because even this year, there was so much talk around it because the prize money was a million dollars.”

While there were still challenges with the tournament, which had to work around regular season games in the first three months of the season, it helped players stay sharp during the long World Cup break, Williams pointed out.

“I think it also allowed players that wouldn’t necessarily get time in the regular season to show what they could do in this Challenge Cup,” she said. “And I think that on some teams, those players are now starting even though the World Cup players are back. So, I would also love to know the reasoning behind that. Is something else going to replace it or, like, what’s the deal there?”