“Legend” is a label that gets tossed around quite a bit in the world of sports, but USWNT soccer star Julie Ertz has more than earned it. And after more than a decade of playing professionally at the international level, Ertz announced her retirement from the sport, marking the end of an era for the national squad and women’s soccer in the U.S.
Ertz shared the announcement via Twitter, expressing her gratitude to the fans, her teammates, and the coaches who guided her to two World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019. “I gave everything I had to the sport that I love,” Ertz wrote. “With that I can walk away with no regrets because while I gave soccer every ounce of myself, soccer gave me even more, and for that I’ll always be thankful.”
The midfielder served as the defensive spine of the USWNT. Her dogged determination to win every ball, her fearlessness in any tackle, and her steadiness — particularly in her role as a leader for the U.S. team in the 2023 World Cup this summer while playing out of position at center back — inspired confidence in fans and, likely, fear in the opposition. Just 241 days after giving birth to her son, Madden, Ertz returned to the international stage, intent on helping the USWNT earn another star Down Under and her command of the squad’s backline (along with her partnership with Naomi Girma) marked a bright spot in the team’s lackluster tournament run.
After the USWNT’s loss to Sweden in the Round of 16, Ertz hinted that the match might be the last time she wore the crest for the women’s team but her recent announcement confirms she’s also stepping down from her role at Angel City FC. Ertz expressed her desire to focus on her family as motivation for the move and, unlike her fellow USWNT teammate Megan Rapinoe, she doesn’t seem to have any plans to play in a final match with the squad on U.S. soil.
With the USWNT in transition, the loss of Ertz symbolizes a gigantic shift — not just in the team’s future lineup but in its style of play and mindset on the field. Few players were as competitive and relentless on the pitch and of those, none were as dependable and consistent in their play. Ertz’s legacy is one of inimitability, as no one will be able to emulate her presence on the pitch or match her influence off it.