After the release of his 23-player roster for the SheBelieves Cup, U.S. women’s national team head coach Vlatko Andonovski answered a few long-held questions Wednesday about the state of his midfield.
Andonovski confirmed Monday’s statement from midfielder Sam Mewis that she will focus on the continued rehabilitation of her knee this year. The 2019 World Cup champion does not have a timeline for her return to the pitch and will not be available for selection for the 2023 World Cup.
“That’s something that we’ve known for a while,” he told reporters Wednesday. “We just wanted to allow Sam to make a decision on when to make this public.”
The coach also provided an update on two-time World Cup champion Julie Ertz. While the answers were not definitive, time appears to be running out for her to become fit in time for this summer’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
“Another person that hasn’t been in camp for a while, Julie Ertz, is someone that, obviously we see that she hasn’t committed to any training [or] team in the league so far,” Andonovski said. “And the time is running out pretty much for her as well, and she’s someone that we’re probably not going to be able to count on in the World Cup.”
Ertz is an NWSL free agent, with her rights most recently held by Angel City FC after she was traded from the Chicago Red Stars prior to the 2022 season. She hasn’t played in an NWSL match since May 2021 after suffering a knee injury, and her last appearance with the USWNT came in the bronze medal match of the Tokyo Olympics.
Ertz had been rehabbing her knee after the Olympics, but she also has taken time away from the sport due to pregnancy. She and her husband, Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz, had their first child, Madden Matthew Ertz, in August 2022.
In October 2022, Andonovski had said that the USWNT would take its time with Ertz, saying: “We want to give Julie time to get back slowly. We won’t even discuss it. This is time for Julie to enjoy time with her family, and when the time comes, if she is anywhere near her best, this team will welcome her back.”
Ertz has won two World Cups with the USWNT, first as a center back and then as a defensive midfielder. In her absence, the team has struggled to replace her unique skill set, though they seem to be preparing for the near future without her.
The midfielder has not yet announced her plans for her playing career going forward.