The U.S. women’s national team’s April roster features a familiar, yet surprising, face.
Julie Ertz has not played since the Tokyo Olympics in August 2021, but she is making her return for the USWNT’s upcoming friendlies against Ireland, the team announced Tuesday.
The 30-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 has not played an NWSL match since May 2021 and remains a free agent as the 2023 season gets underway.
Ahead of the SheBelieves Cup in February, USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski said that time was “running out” for Ertz to make her return ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“She’s someone that we’re probably not going to be able to count on in the World Cup,” he said at the time.
This is the last USWNT roster to drop before the World Cup in July. That makes Ertz’s inclusion all the more surprising, and the question remains: Will Ertz be making the trip Down Under?
Also returning for the USWNT are defenders Casey Krueger, for the first time since the birth of her son Caleb last July, and Tierna Davidson, after recovering from an ACL tear. And reigning NWSL MVP Sophia Smith is back for the USWNT after missing the start of the year with a nagging foot injury.
Catarina Macario remains sidelined as she works her way back from an ACL tear, and Megan Rapinoe is out for the second time in three camps. Rapinoe missed the January friendlies in New Zealand with an ankle injury before returning for the SheBelieves Cup, but she has missed the start of the NWSL season with a calf injury.
Midge Purce also was left off the roster. The 27-year-old forward was snubbed from the last two camps of 2022, but she made the cut in January and February, with Andonovski saying ahead in January friendlies that Purce had the chance to “fight for her spot.”
The USWNT will face Ireland at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, April 8 at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas, and then at 7:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, April 11 at CityPark in St. Louis. The first game will air on TNT, Universo and Peacock, while the second game will air on HBO Max, Universo and Peacock.
The final prep for Australia-New Zealand begins 👊 pic.twitter.com/zT5OeqvCoL— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) March 28, 2023
The final prep for Australia-New Zealand begins 👊 pic.twitter.com/zT5OeqvCoL