Injuries 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.
The roster is coming into shape, and while several players are still working their way back to 100%, head coach Vlatko Andonovski has made it clear that he’ll take the best even if they’re not at their best.
“What is someone’s best and what is someone’s 80% or 90%?” he said. “If somebody’s 80% or 90% is better than somebody else’s best, then too bad. Anyone that will help us win the World Cup will be taken to the World Cup.”
So who are those players? Just Women’s Sports is taking a look at who is making their case for the World Cup. Next up: Julie Ertz.
Total caps: 118
Most recent USWNT appearance: April 11, 2023 vs. Ireland (International friendly)
Ertz made her return to the USWNT in April and almost immediately made an impact. She looked like she hadn’t missed any time with the team, providing a boost in a midfield that has at times struggled in her absence as players moved to fill the hole she left.
The 31-year-old midfielder had been rehabbing a knee injury, and then she gave birth to a baby boy last August with husband Zach Ertz. She had not played an NWSL match since May 2021.
So her inclusion came as a surprise to nearly everyone, as many had expected her to miss this summer’s tournament – especially after coach Vlatko Andonovski said in February that the team was “probably not going to be able to count on [her] in the World Cup.” But she did make her comeback, and it was a sight to behold.
Very few USWNT players fit the role of a true No. 6, and outside of Ertz, Andonosvki has been unable to find a player who can consistently hold down the spot. While Andi Sullivan has covered Ertz’s role to the best of her abilities, being able to slot Sullivan alongside Ertz only makes the USWNT better, as both can focus on their natural skill sets.
Since making her USWNT return, Ertz has signed with Angel City FC and has been getting crucial game minutes in the NWSL, though there have been moments where Ertz has lacked sharpness. In recent appearances with Angel City, she’s scored one goal while holding a 63.2% completion rate on passes. She had 10 interceptions each in matches against Portland and Washington but won just 40 percent of her duels in those games.
Even if Ertz isn’t back to full speed, though, Andonovski has hinted that he would include her on the World Cup roster. That, combined with Catarina Macario’s recent withdrawal from USWNT consideration, makes Ertz a very likely choice for a trip to Australia and New Zealand. And even with Ertz at 80%, the USWNT might not be able to win the World Cup without her.