(Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

Injuries and extended absences have taken a toll on the U.S. women’s national team as the reigning world champions prepare for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

As head coach Vlatko Andonovski continues to evaluate players before naming a final roster next summer, we take a look at recent USWNT mainstays on the outside looking in and where they stand in the run-up to the biggest tournament in women’s soccer. First up is Sam Mewis.

Position: Midfielder
Total caps: 83
Most recent USWNT appearance: Aug. 5, 2021 vs. Australia (Tokyo Olympics)

What is her track record with the USWNT?

The midfielder received her first call-up to the national team in 2014. By 2016, she was selected as an alternate for the Olympic team, and by 2018, she had established herself as a mainstay on the roster.

Mewis started five of the USWNT’s seven matches at the 2019 World Cup. She recorded two assists at the tournament, but her contributions went beyond the score sheet. Her 43 recoveries ranked second only to teammate Crystal Dunn, who had 45.

She figured heavily in the lineup again at the Tokyo Olympics.

What is keeping her off the roster?

Mewis underwent arthroscopic surgery on her right knee in August 2021. At the time, she was expected to be out for up to eight weeks. More than a year later, she remains on the sidelines.

She was named to the USWNT roster in March ahead of friendlies against Uzbekistan, but she later was ruled out due to her continuing recovery from “a knee issue,” per U.S. Soccer.

The 30-year-old midfielder did not play at all for the NWSL’s Kansas City Current this season. The club placed her on the season-ending injury list in early August with a “long-standing progressive injury to her right leg suffered prior to her arrival in Kansas City.” She was traded to the Current from the North Carolina Courage in the offseason.

Back in May, Mewis referenced her injury on the Snacks podcast with co-host and USWNT and Current teammate Lynn Williams, who suffered a season-ending hamstring injury at the start of the 2022 Challenge Cup. But she has not provided any detailed updates on her status since then.

When will she be back?

It’s unclear when Mewis will make her return and whether she will be available for the World Cup roster next summer. On Sept. 5, USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski said the team had the opportunity to see Mewis while training in Kansas City in preparation for a friendly against Nigeria.

“She’s doing great going through a recovery period,” Andonovski said. “Obviously her recovery is taking a little bit longer than we expected, but as of right now, we’ll let Sam take her time and get healthy and then we’ll talk about getting fit and ready to play.”

What other players are missing from the USWNT roster?