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Seattle Reign sign Sam Meza for 2024 season

The rookie midfielder has impressed during the preseason.

Last Updated
3 min read
Credit: Jane Gershovich / Seattle Reign

Seattle Reign FC announced on Thursday that the club has signed midfielder Sam Meza through the 2024 NWSL season, with an additional one-year option. Meza was Seattle’s first selection in the 2024 NWSL Draft. She was acquired after the Reign traded $125,000 in allocation money to the Chicago Red Stars in exchange for the 17th overall draft pick.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to play for Seattle Reign FC,” said Meza in a team release. “I strongly believe that this environment will help me continue to develop as a professional and play to my full potential. I have felt nothing but the warmest of welcomes from my teammates, coaches and the community. I can’t wait to compete at Lumen Field and meet our supporters soon!”

The rookie midfielder made 72 total appearances for the University of North Carolina, where she scored seven goals and claimed 10 assists. The 22-year-old was named to the All-ACC First Team in 2022 and was a two-time All-ACC Second Team selection as a senior and sophomore (2021 and 2023).

Playing a little deeper in the midfield for UNC last year, Meza showed that she's comfortable receiving passes with her back to opponents – and turning and creating for her teammates or dribbling out of pressure.

“She might be the best player in college soccer right now because, when she’s out there, no one can touch her," Meza's college coach Anson Dorrance said in 2022. "It’s not like she’s just an attacking player. Defensively, she’s one of the greatest midfielders I’ve ever coached.”

"Sam is the reason we all pay money to watch soccer. Her creativity and skill set separate herself from other elite players," Dorrance added on NWSL Draft day.

Meza has played for the U.S. Women’s Youth National Teams since 2015, most recently suiting up in friendlies for the U-23 team. She won the 2020 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship with the U.S. U-20 team and the 2018 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship with the U-17 team.

Meza has appeared in both of Reign FC's preseason matches against the Costa Rica Women's National Team and the University of Washington. Playing in a more advanced midfield role, she showed good vision and how tenacious she can be on the defensive side of the ball – closing down rapidly on opponents and putting in several perfectly timed slide tackles.

Meza played a role in the Reign's second and third goals against Costa Rica – getting a foot on the ball that found Ryanne Brown for the second goal and making the final pass to Jordyn Huitema, who earned a penalty kick.

"We said after the draft that trading up to get Sam Meza with the 17th pick was a steal, and now a month plus into preseason, we’d double-down on that sentiment,” said Reign General Manager Lesle Gallimore. “Sam is a skillful and dynamic player who has quickly shown she can be impactful at the professional level, but most importantly Sam demonstrates the drive, curiosity, and growth mindset to constantly improve which are traits we really value.”

Gallimore also shared in a press conference after the NWSL Draft that she ran into Penn State coach Erica Dambach, who told her Meza was the best player her team went up against during the 2023 college soccer season. That is some strong praise from a coach who had five players selected in the draft this year.

With Meza's signing, the Reign now has 24 players signed and another two, Luany and Jimena López, on loan until July. Equalizer Soccer reported that the NWSL has increased the number of international slots to seven for the 2024 season. The Reign currently have six international players signed, although Luany and López do not count until they return from their loan spells.