Julie Ertz wasn’t supposed to make it back to the U.S. women’s national team.
Ertz, who last week was recalled for the first time since the Olympics, gave birth to her son in 2022, and has been without a club for over a year. USWNT boss Vlatko Andonovski said in February the team didn’t believe she was going to be available for the World Cup. There were no outward signs she was about to make a comeback.
And yet, that’s exactly what she’s doing. Over 600 days after her last competitive match, Ertz is on Andonovski’s roster for two friendlies against the Republic of Ireland.
What brought her back?
‘I do love competing. I love playing the sport,’ Ertz told reporters from the team’s camp in Texas. ‘It’s hard to step away from it. Obviously coming back from pregnancy changes things — obviously your body — so I just wanted to make sure, when I was coming back, that I felt like I was strong enough, to be able to feel like I could be myself.’
Julie Ertz searches for club to meet USWNT requirement
Ertz, 30, said she is practicing ‘an attitude of gratitude’ with her return, acknowledging the recall is rooted in ‘probably my past successes with the team, individually and collectively.’ Ertz is still without a club, and Andonovski told reporters last week the USWNT is holding club play as a requirement.
That issue is one Ertz said she’s working on while focusing on this national team camp.
‘I’m in communication with a few teams,’ said Ertz, adding she is ‘trying to stay focused on the games coming up, but also knowing that I need a club team.’
USWNT helped Julie Ertz get back into playing shape
Still, the USWNT kept Ertz connected while she’s trained away from a team environment. Ertz said she’s been watching a lot of film and asking plenty of questions.
‘I’ve been in really good conversations with Vlatko, just what they’ve been looking at, what they’ve been trying to do about each game,’ Ertz said. ‘It’s been a little bit different from game to game. So it’s been fun listening to what he sees, and allowing [me] to ask questions.
‘ And then, making sure to have that part where I can really focus on what they were doing tactically, if even if I wasn’t there physically.’
Ertz said despite the long road back into playing shape, that side of things is going well.
‘My body feels physically where it needs to be,’ Ertz said. ‘I feel great.’
NWSL moms offer support to Julie Ertz
Ertz added that she heard from multiple mothers around the NWSL, specifically taking a moment to shout out Chicago Red Stars and Jamaica forward Cheyna Matthews, who has returned to play after the birth of each of her three children. Ertz also said she trained with Kealia Watt, another NWSL moms.
‘I had so much respect for them [as players], and now it’s like a whole different level of like, oh my gosh, you have no idea,’ Ertz said. ‘The behind the scenes of stuff that they go through, and so I’m grateful for it all. They really inspired me.’