Since their 2019 World Cup win, it’s been a bumpy ride for the United States women’s national team.
There was the failure at the Olympics in Tokyo in 2021, where the U.S. left with a bronze medal after putting together a string of unconvincing performances. Abuse and mismanagement inside the women’s game has directly impacted the team. Then, there are the question marks, injuries, and absences at several positions across the field.
The biggest of those positional question marks for manager Vlatko Andonovski is at the No. 6 position. Julie Ertz anchored the USWNT during the 2019 World Cup and during their last Olympic campaign. Then Andi Sullivan took over during Ertz’s time away from the team, in which she had a baby. Now Ertz is back. She was recalled by Andonovski for two of the USWNT’s final games before the World Cup.
Ertz came off the bench and played around 25 minutes in the U.S.’s 2-0 win over Ireland Saturday and came on as a substitute to start the second half in a 1-0 win on Tuesday, also against Ireland.
Here’s why Ertz’s return to the national team is such a big deal — and what she brought to the table in two of the United States’ final World Cup tuneups.