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USWNT star Julie Ertz retires from professional soccer

Julie Ertz played in her third World Cup with the USWNT in 2023. (Richard Callis/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Julie Ertz announced her retirement from professional soccer Thursday, bringing to an end a 10-year professional and international career.

Her exit from the game comes after her third World Cup for the USWNT. Ertz, 31, already had announced her retirement from the national team in the immediate aftermath of the USWNT’s World Cup elimination, but the professional future for the Angel City FC midfielder had remained up in the air.

“With immense emotion and processing, I’ve decided it is time to hang up the boots,” she wrote in a statement posted to social media Thursday.

A member of the USWNT since 2013, back when she was still Julie Johnston, Ertz earned her first senior national team call-up in January of that year, then got her first cap in February against Scotland.

From that point on, her national team career took off. A two-time World Cup champion, she was named to the FIFA Women’s World Cup All-Star Team in 2015. She is also an Olympic bronze medalist (2021) and has twice been named U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year (2017 and 2019).

Playing as both a defender and a midfielder, she has made 122 appearances for the national team, scoring 20 goals and notching six assists.

Professionally, Ertz was a longtime member of the Chicago Red Stars, having been drafted third overall by the team in the 2014 NWSL Draft. She earned NWSL Rookie of the Year honors that season, starting in 21 matches and scoring two goals. She remained with Chicago through 2021, when she was traded to Angel City FC ahead of the Los Angeles-based club’s inaugural season.

While a knee injury and then pregnancy had kept her sidelined for a year and a half following the 2021 Olympics, she returned to both the NWSL and the national team in April 2023. She signed with Angel City after making a surprise reappearance on the USWNT friendly roster that same month. Three months later, she played a pivotal role as a starting center-back in her third and final World Cup.

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

She revealed her decision to retire from the USWNT after the shootout loss to Sweden in the Round of 16, telling ESPN that the match would be her “last time in this crest.”

“It’s been an absolute ride,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about myself as a player, but even as a person. This team obviously competes and plays soccer, but it does so much more, and I’m just very grateful.”

Rather than return to Angel City to close out the NWSL season, she is choosing to end her career with her final World Cup appearance. She cited her desire to spend time with her family — which includes son Madden and husband Zach Ertz, a tight end for the Arizona Cardinals — as a big factor in her decision.

“I know the sacrifices it takes to be the best you can be,” she wrote. “As I’ve gotten older and become a mom, it’s clear the sacrifices of time away from my family no longer seem doable with so many factors at play.

“These girls gave me a gift I could never repay and I got to live out a dream I wish for everyone: falling in love with a sport you have played your whole life and getting to share it with your son.

“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.”