Julie Ertz on her final USWNT match: ‘Really good ending to say bye’

Julie Ertz played her final match with the United States women’s national team on Thursday night against South Africa, earning a 3-0 victory in what the player described as a “really good ending to say bye.”

She concludes her international career with 123 appearances for the U.S following her 2013 debut, scoring 20 goals and forming an integral part of the two World Cup-winning sides in 2015 and 2019. The midfielder recently played in her third and final World Cup, joining the 23-player roster for the 2023 tournament in New Zealand and Australia. 

But before hanging up her boots, the midfielder offered advice for those who wish to follow her path. 

“Obviously this is a monumental game for me. I’m beyond grateful to represent this crest for as long as I have. To any girl out there who dreams to be here, it’s worth it. Every part of it. I’ve enjoyed every part of this journey that I’ve have, and you guys are a big part of that. … I love this sport so much and I’m grateful to be part of the U.S. Soccer family,” she said. 

“Really excited that we scored kind of right before [I was subbed]. It just felt like a really good ending to say bye. I’ve always known I loved the sport, and in that moment, the 35 minutes left that I was blessed to have, I just could just feel it. I could feel how much I loved it. I’m so grateful.”

Ertz made an immense impact on the USWNT and players around her, inspiring Lynn Williams to describe her work ethic as “incredible”.

“She directs people every second, every moment on the field. She just shows by her work rate and her dedication to the game. We joke about it in the camp, but she’s always holding an iPad and always studying, always learning,” Williams told TNT.

“Even this morning she was doing it and we were like, ‘Julie, you’re retiring. It doesn’t matter anymore.’ But just her preparation, her dedication, and her willingness to put everything on the line for us, it’s incredible.”

Ertz previously teased the idea of hanging up her boots after the USWNT fell to Sweden in the Round of 16 on penalties, indicating it would “probably” be her last game sporting the crest. 

“As I have 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,” Ertz said.

“These girls gave me a gift I could never repay and l 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.”

The midfielder kicked off her professional career in 2014, after being drafted as the third overall pick of the NWSL College draft by the Chicago Red Stars. She featured for the team for seven years before taking a quick hiatus from football and returning in 2023 with Angel City FC.