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Julie Ertz had to process ‘angry’ feelings after World Cup exit

(Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Following the 2023 World Cup, Julie Ertz had to deal with her anger about the U.S. women’s national team’s early exit.

The shootout loss to Sweden in the Round of 16 stands as the earliest a USWNT team had ever exited the World Cup, and it came at the hands of a devastating penalty kick that some – including U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher – still can’t believe crossed the goal line.

Following that loss, Ertz noted that it would be her last time wearing the USWNT crest, alluding to her retirement from professional soccer, which she formally announced a few weeks later. While she stepped away from her NWSL club Angel City immediately after her retirement announcement, the 31-year-old midfielder will make one final appearance for the USWNT on Thursday night.

“For someone who obviously is coming to the end, I think it’s just it took me a while to kind of get over just processing it,” she said on the Sirius XM show “Played In.” “Normally I’m pretty emotional. But I think I was just angry – and not at anyone or anything, just the tournament.

“I dream about this and fight for it. And it’s every four years and that’s why it’s so beautiful. This tournament is just so amazing in so many ways. And I had an honor to be at a couple of them.”

In the lead up to the World Cup, Ertz was a question mark. The midfielder suffered an injury at the Tokyo Olympics before giving birth to son Madden last year, which kept her out of the lineup for a significant stretch. But in April, she made a surprise return to the national team, receiving a call-up for a pair of friendlies against Ireland. She then signed with Angel City ahead of the World Cup, which helped build up her stamina.

The past year was “so wild” that she didn’t spend a lot of time looking too far ahead, Ertz said. Traveling back and forth between her home in Arizona and her NWSL club in Los Angeles was hard, and while part of it was “amazing,” the outcome of the World Cup was still disappointing.

“Obviously, I had no idea what it was gonna be like after having a child,” she said. “And my situation has always been so unique that I’ve never really got to live in the market where I got to play and to be with my family.

“Something is always sacrificed, there’s a trade off. I am so grateful for all of it. … And I’ve been so grateful to hit those milestones coming back from Madden. After the Olympics, it was just like, ‘Can I do it?’ … So that process of just getting back was crazy. It was super empowering for me. I never thought that that would happen. I just figured I’d be done after the Olympics just with having a kid.”