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Julie Ertz will play in one final USWNT match before retirement

(Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images )

Julie Ertz will make one last appearance for the U.S. women’s national team.

The 31-year-old announced her retirement from professional soccer in August, but she will return for a farewell match on Sept. 21. The USWNT is hosting South Africa at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati in the first of two friendlies; Megan Rapinoe will make her final USWNT appearance on Sept. 24 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

After the USWNT’s elimination from the 2023 World Cup, Ertz revealed her decision to retire from the national team. She even told ESPN that the Round of 16 shootout loss to Sweden would be her “last time in this crest.”

To get one more chance to wear the crest will be an honor, she said Wednesday.

“I expected to just walk away after retirement, but to have the opportunity to say goodbye to my teammates and the fans one last time is something special that many players dream of,” Ertz said in a news release. “I wasn’t expecting this honor so I’m very thankful to (interim head coach) Twila (Kilgore) and to U.S. Soccer for giving me the chance to close this chapter of my life with those who have made this journey so memorable.”

The Sept. 21 match will mark Ertz’s 123rd appearance for the USWNT. She earned her first cap in February 2013, and she has been a key piece of the roster over the last 10 years. A member of the 2015 and 2019 World Cup-winning squads, she has twice been named U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year, in 2017 and 2019.

While a knee injury and then pregnancy had kept her sidelined for a year and a half following the 2021 Olympics, she made a surprise return to both the NWSL and the national team in April 2023. Three months later, she played a pivotal role as a starting center-back in her third and final World Cup before deciding to hang up her boots.

“These past six months have been a dream come true,” she wrote in her retirement announcement. “After pregnancy, I never knew if I had a chance to play the beautiful game again, let along 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.”

USWNT schedule: International friendlies vs. South Africa

  • Thursday, Sept. 21 — 7:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Universo, Peacock)
    • United States vs. South Africa (TQL Stadium, Cincinnati)
  • Sunday, Sept. 24 — 5:30 p.m. ET (TNT, Universo, Peacock)
    • United States vs. South Africa (Soldier Field, Chicago)