USWNT Stalwart Julie Ertz Might Not Play In 2022

On Thursday, the USWNT dropped its roster for the 2022 SheBelieves Cup, to be played in California and Texas later this month. Julie Ertz, a stalwart on the national team since 2013, was nowhere to be found. It was a similar story two days earlier when Angel City FC, the NWSL club that owns her rights, unveiled its preseason roster, without Ertz listed. 

Where is Julie Ertz? Why isn’t she playing soccer right now? Fans across the country want to know.

According to Angel City, Ertz isn’t planning to play in 2022, the Equalizer has reported.

Julie Ertz has not played competitive soccer since August, when she helped the USWNT earn a bronze medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The defensive midfielder rushed back from an MCL injury to play in the tournament, and though she was effective, she wasn’t quite as dominant as we’ve been accustomed to following her performances at the 2015 and 2019 Women’s World Cups.

After the Olympics, Ertz didn’t rejoin the Chicago Red Stars, having reaggravated her knee injury. The Red Stars, the only club Ertz has played for as a professional, traded her to expansion club Angel City in December. The 29-year-old said she was excited for the opportunity.

“Anytime somebody believes that you could be helpful and an impact on their team, it’s a huge honor,” Ertz told Insider in December. “And anyone that thinks obviously that you can come and be helpful is huge. I’m excited for the new franchise for what they’ve already accomplished, what they want to (do), and their plans to do that.”

Ertz was not a part of the November USWNT friendlies or the January USWNT camp. This wasn’t a huge surprise as a lot of veterans were left off those teams. The real questions began to fly when Angel City unveiled its preseason roster, with Ertz conspicuously missing. 

On Thursday, Ertz also wasn’t in the USWNT roster, which prompted questions about where the star player is. U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski was asked directly about her absence. 

“I’ve spoken with Julie before and I’ve said this before,” Andonovski said. “Julie was not ready to come into camp from (a) physical standpoint. And in the conversations that I’ve had with her, she understands that in order to get back into camp — and that’s not just for Julie, that’s for any player on the team — first and foremost, you’ve got to be healthy, fit and ready to play. And then the next thing is you’ve got to perform in your club market to earn your spot on the national team. So, whenever Julie is ready, and she performs well, we know how good she can be. We know how valuable she is for the team. We’re going to be happy to get her back.”

Those comments were followed by the above statement from Angel City, which said Ertz isn’t expected to play in 2022, but if she does, it will be with the LA club. 

It’s unclear why exactly Julie Ertz is not playing right now. She has not yet signed a contract with Angel City, the club that owns her rights. Ertz could conceivably decide to play in Europe instead, though that seems unlikely given her husband, NFL star Zach Ertz, plays a sport that’s only popular in the U.S.

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It’s possible Ertz wants to take as much time as she can to recover from her MCL injury. The 2023 Women’s World Cup is 17 months away; no one wants to be dealing with a nagging injury at a World Cup.

It’s also possible she’s simply taking a break from the game, as her Angel City/USWNT teammate Christen Press did after the Olympics. The new NWSL CBA guarantees players up to six months of mental health leave, and now is as good a time as any to refocus and prepare psychologically for the coming rigors of being a professional athlete. 

One last possibility is she’s wanting to start a family with her husband. Alex Morgan had a baby in 2020 and Crystal Dunn is pregnant now (though still training with the Thorns). Perhaps Ertz will be the next USWNT player to have a child. (NWSL players also get eight weeks paid parental leave under the new CBA.)

At this point, it’s all speculation until Julie Ertz explains where she is, not that she owes anyone an explanation. U.S. fans just hope she’s able to perform at the best of her abilities when it matters most at the next major international tournament, the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

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