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Julie Ertz retires from USWNT after World Cup loss

Julie Ertz is embraced by Alyssa Thompson after the Sweden game. (Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Holding back tears, Julie Ertz dropped a bombshell in an interview with FOX Sports in the moments after the U.S. women’s national team’s loss to Sweden in the Round of 16.

“For me, it’s emotional, because it’s probably my last game ever, being able to have the honor to wear this crest,” Ertz said. “It’s just tough. I feel like it’s just an emotional time.”

She confirmed to ESPN that she plans to retire from the USWNT, saying, “Unfortunately this is my last time in this crest.” The two-time World Cup champion finishes her international career with 122 appearances and 20 goals.

Ertz helped the USWNT to World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019. Coach Vlatko Andonovski surprisingly moved Ertz from midfield to center-back for this World Cup. After returning to the team earlier this year from maternity leave, she helped sustain a backline that surrendered just one goal over four games.

Ertz, who was named U.S. Soccer Player of the Year in 2019, said she hopes she will leave behind a legacy of “grit” with the national team.

“Kelley (O’Hara) always says that we just rent these jerseys and it’s our job to pass these down to the younger ones to continue that in their DNA,” she said.

The USWNT’s run ended in heartbreaking fashion, with a 5-4 defeat in penalty kicks and Sweden’s final shot crossing the goal line by less than a centimeter. Prior to Sunday, the U.S. had never lost earlier than the World Cup semifinals.

“It absolutely sucks,” Ertz said. “Penalties are the worst. But it’s an honor to represent this teams and I’m excited for the future of the girls.”

Ertz, 31, signed with Angel City in April and has played in seven games for the club as a midfielder. Though her time with the USWNT might be complete, Ertz still has plenty to offer the game.

“It’s been an absolute ride,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about myself as a player, but even as a person. This team obviously competes and plays soccer, but it does so much more, and I’m just very grateful.”

In addition to Megan Rapinoe, who announced her intention to retire after the 2023 season, this was possibly the final World Cup for several USWNT veterans including Alex Morgan, Kelley O’Hara and Crystal Dunn.