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Julie Ertz calls it a career with one last USWNT match

(Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

“One last time baby,” Julie Ertz wrote on Instagram, accompanied by a photo of a much younger Julie in a youth soccer photo.

The 31-year-old midfielder appeared in the starting lineup Thursday in her final match for the U.S. women’s national team, and the 3-0 win against South Africa served as a fitting tribute to her career.

Ertz wore the captain’s armband until she was subbed off in the 36th minute, earning a standing ovation from the crowd at Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium as she walked to the sideline.

“I’ve always known I loved the sport, and that moment, I think…the 35 minutes left that I was blessed to have, I just could just feel it,” Ertz said on TNT after the match. “I could feel how much I loved it. So I’m so grateful.”

Ertz announced her retirement from professional soccer in August, following the USWNT’s exit from the 2023 World Cup, but she returned for one last match with the national team.

The USWNT honored Ertz not just with a win but with a highlight reel of her illustrious career as well, which includes 2015 and 2019 World Cup titles, the 2017 and 2019 U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards and two Olympic tournaments.

“These past six months have been a dream come true,” Ertz wrote in her retirement announcement. “After pregnancy, I never knew if I had a chance to play the beautiful game again, let alone another World Cup. … Representing this country on the national team has been the greatest honor. To play for the USWNT means you chase greatness every day while you wear the crest. I hope that I was able to leave an impact that reflects that.”