One Last Game: Julie Ertz Hangs Up Her Boots
Tenacious. Competitive. Driven. Dedicated. Fearless.
Those are just a few of the many words used to describe Julie Ertz and her incredible career.
The United States Women's National Team is set to take on South Africa at TQL stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio for Ertz to take the pitch one final time. A trip down memory lane feels necessary to sum up the legend that she is.
Julie Ertz, formerly Johnston, grew up in Mesa, Arizona. Her soccer career started as most do, playing for a local rec team at a young age because of her older sister. Her sister, Ertz ended up playing for Sereno Soccer Club in Phoenix which bolstered her career from a young age.
Ertz grew to become not only a high-class player, but a leader on the field for Sereno. During her seven years on the team, they won several state titles and she helped captain the team to success.
When it came time for high school, Ertz opted to not play for her school, instead focusing fully on her club team. That decision set her up perfectly to be recruited to Santa Clara.
During her collegiate career, she scored 31 goals in 79 appearances for the Broncos. In her junior year of college, the Broncos made it to the NCAA tournament where she scored three goals and tallied an assist in the first round. After that season wrapped up Ertz was named as a MAC Hermann Trophy semi-finalist and U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year.
Her list of accolades from her time at Santa Clara spans with awards like player of the week, all-freshman team, first teams, and beyond.
From draft day in January 2014 to December 2021, Ertz spent her career in Chicago. In classic Julie Ertz fashion, she made herself known by scoring a goal in her first appearance for the club. And, to top it all off, she won NWSL Rookie of the Year, proving it was only the beginning for her.
During her time with Chicago, she captained the team to many playoffs, although never won it all. Throughout her club career, 95 of her 98 caps were with the Red Stars. In a move to be closer to family, and get playing time ahead of the World Cup, she signed to Angel City where she played three matches and scored a goal.
Ertz has played at every level for the United States first getting the call-up to the U-14. She eventually made her way to the U-20s where she captained the team to win the 2012 U-20 World Cup.
From 2013-2014, Ertz was on again, off again, with the senior team. She made her first appearance for the national team in their first match of the year on February 9, 2013, against Scotland. She came in for Becky Sauerbrunn in the 83rd minute to help the United States win the match 4–1.
Ertz went on to compete in the 2015, 2019, and 2023 World Cups, as well as the 2016 and 2021 Olympics. She was one of the five United States players who played every minute in all seven matches for the United States during the 2015 World Cup.
In 2016, Ertz made her Olympic debut against New Zealand where the team won 2-0. Although the team did not win that year, due to being knocked out by Sweden in penalties, it was a growing moment for the defender.
Beginning in 2017, Ertz was shifted from center back to a defensive center midfield position. She found success in the new role and later that year she was named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year. She went on to win Player of the Year again in 2019 after a successful World Cup run.
At the first SheBelieves Cup competition on March 5, 2020, Ertz played her 100th match for the United States in a 2–0 win against England, although they did not get around to celebrating until April 7, 2023, when she made her comeback to the pitch.
Now, after a World Cup run that was less than ideal, Ertz has decided to hang up her boots. It is rare for an athlete to be given the chance to retire on their own terms so this moment is monumental for the midfielder. There is no doubt that she could go on and continue to play for years to come, but when looking towards the future, she felt fulfilled with soccer.
“It’s not because Mama can’t play. Mama can play,” Ertz said. “She has just adapted her priorities.”
At 31 years old, she has had a career that most can only begin to imagine. From playing center back to the crucial role of a No. 6, she has been a staple to this team for almost a decade now.
With 123 caps and 22 goals to her name, it is going to be hard to find someone to fill the shoes of Ertz. At the end of the day, no one will be able to replicate the defensive efforts of her work in the midfield. Ertz forced attackers off the ball and was always willing to put her body on the line. She is the epitome of a team player while being a threat, tried and true. She has qualities that people dream of, and young players look up to. Very few players can excel at multiple positions, but Ertz did it with ease.
Julie Ertz ends her career with a legacy to her name, and hopefully a win.