U.S. Soccer

Solo Records Historic 100th International Shutout In 1-0 Win Against South Africa

CHICAGO (July 9, 2016) – Hope Solo became the first goalkeeper in international history to earn 100 international shutouts as the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated South Africa, 1-0 in the first meeting between the two teams.

The crowd of 19,272 fans at Soldier Field also saw Solo earn her 150th career win and Crystal Dunn bag the game-winner in the 35th minute.

The USA had far more possession on the day and numerous quality scoring chances, but the South Africans certainly distinguished themselves with some organized defense, hard running and a few dangerous attacks.

The USA finally broke through 10 minutes before halftime when 18-year-old Mallory Pugh set up Dunn for a close-range finish. Pugh dribbled with pace down the left side of the box and sent a bouncing ball across the face of the goal. Dunn was unmarked at the far post and sent a first-time shot past the goalkeeper for her ninth tally of the year. Pugh earned her team-leading seventh assist through 13 games in her debut year.

Solo had a fine performance, stopping both of South Africa’s shots on goal and dominating her penalty box to reach 100 shutouts in her 197th cap. Her 150th career win extended her record for a goalkeeper.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Crystal Dunn (Mallory Pugh), 35th minute:
Mallory Pugh carried the ball down the left flank and into the penalty area to the end line. Her left-footed cross bounced through traffic and across the face of the goal to a patient Dunn at the far post. Dunn finished with confidence from four yards out for her ninth goal of the year. Pugh’s assist marks her team-leading seventh in her debut year. USA 1, RSA 0 (SEE GOAL). FINAL

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
RSA – Nothando Vilakazi, 48th minute:
Kelley O’Hara got forward down the right wing and sent a terrific cross to Allie Long in the middle of the box. Long sent a headed attempt on goal and past goalkeeper Roxanne Barker, but Nothando Vilakazi was in prime position to clear the ball off the goal line with her chest.

Next on the Schedule: The U.S. WNT returns to action for its final Olympic send-off game against Costa Rica on July 22 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas (8 p.m. CT: ESPN).

Social: Facebook; Twitter (@ussoccer_wnt; @ussoccer_esp); Instagram; Snapchat (ussoccer_wnt)

Additional Notes:

  • The USA improved to 13-0-1 on the year, including 12 shutouts while allowing just four goals.
  • Today’s game marked the first meeting between the U.S. WNT and South Africa in the history of the programs at any level of women’s soccer.
  • Carli Lloyd came on for Lindsey Horan at halftime, marking her first appearance since April 10 after suffering a sprained MCL with the NWSL’s Houston Dash on April 23.
  • Ali Krieger subbed in for Alex Morgan in the 68th minute, Whitney Engen replaced Julie Johnston in the 81st minute, Heather O’Reilly came in for Kelley O’Hara in the 83rd minute and Samantha Mewis subbed in for Mallory Pugh in the 87th minute.
  • Morgan Brian, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Gina Lewandowski and Ashlyn Harris did not suit up for the match.
  • Dunn’s ninth goal of 2016 trails only Alex Morgan (11) for the team lead.
  • Heather O’Reilly earned her 230th cap for the USA. Lloyd earned her 223rd.
  • Ali Krieger earned her 90th cap. 

- U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. South Africa
Date: July 9, 2016
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Soldier Field; Chicago, Illinois
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. CT
Attendance: 19,272
Weather: 75 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:   1          2          F
USA                            1          0          1
RSA                            0          0          0

USA – Crystal Dunn (Mallory Pugh)  35th minute

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 5-Kelley O’Hara (9-Heather O’Reilly, 83), 8-Julie Johnston (6-Whitney Engen, 81), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.), 7-Meghan Klingenberg; 23-Allie Long, 12-Christen Press, 20-Lindsey Horan (10-Carli Lloyd, 46); 16-Crystal Dunn, 13-Alex Morgan (11-Ali Krieger, 68), 2-Mallory Pugh (3-Samantha Mewis, 87)
Subs not used: 21-Alyssa Naeher, 22-Emily Sonnett
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

RSA: 1-Roxanne Barker; 15-Refiloe Jane, 4-Noko Matlou, 5-Janine Van Wyk (capt.), 3-Nothando Vilakazi (19-Bambanani Mbane, 87); 20-Stephanie Malherbe, 21-Robyn Moodaly (18-Nompumelelo Nyandeni, 46), 2- Lebohang Ramalepe (17-Leandra Smeda, 56), 12-Jermaine Seoposenwe (11-Chrestinah Kgatlana, 80); 8-Linda Mothlalo (9-Amanda Dlamini, 61), 13-Octovia Nogwanya (14-Sanah Mollo, 24)
Subs not used:
16-Andile Dlamini, 23-Kaylin Swart, 6-Mamello Makhabane, 7-Nomathemba Ntsibande, 10-Silindile Ngubane, 22-Lebogang Mabatle
Head Coach:
Vera Pauw 

Stats Summary: USA / RSA
Shots: 18 / 4
Shots on Goal: 6 / 2
Saves: 2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 10 / 2
Fouls: 11 / 10
Offside: 2 / 2 

Misconduct Summary:
USAMeghan Klingenberg (caution)           84th minute
RSA – Nompumelelo Nyandeni (caution)      90+2

Officials:
Referee: Maria Serpas (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Elizabeth Aguilar (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Emperatriz Ayala (SLV)
4th Official: Sandra Arteaga (SLV) 

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Hope Solo

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WNT Jul 9, 2016

- U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. South Africa
Date: July 9, 2016
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Soldier Field; Chicago, Illinois
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. CT
Attendance: 19,272
Weather: 75 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:       1          2          F
USA                             1          0          1
RSA                             0          0          0

USA – Crystal Dunn (Mallory Pugh)        35th minute

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 5-Kelley O’Hara (9-Heather O’Reilly, 83), 8-Julie Johnston (6-Whitney Engen, 81), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (capt.), 7-Meghan Klingenberg; 23-Allie Long, 12-Christen Press, 20-Lindsey Horan (10-Carli Lloyd, 46); 16-Crystal Dunn, 13-Alex Morgan (11-Ali Krieger, 68), 2-Mallory Pugh (3-Samantha Mewis, 87)
Subs not used: 21-Alyssa Naeher, 22-Emily Sonnett
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

RSA: 1-Roxanne Barker; 15-Refiloe Jane, 4-Noko Matlou, 5-Janine Van Wyk (capt.), 3-Nothando Vilakazi (19-Bambanani Mbane, 87); 20-Stephanie Malherbe, 21-Robyn Moodaly (18-Nompumelelo Nyandeni, 46), 2- Lebohang Ramalepe (17-Leandra Smeda, 56), 12-Jermaine Seoposenwe (11-Chrestinah Kgatlana, 80); 8-Linda Mothlalo (9-Amanda Dlamini, 61), 13-Octovia Nogwanya (14-Sanah Mollo, 24)
Subs not used:
16-Andile Dlamini, 23-Kaylin Swart, 6-Mamello Makhabane, 7-Nomathemba Ntsibande, 10-Silindile Ngubane, 22-Lebogang Mabatle
Head Coach:
Vera Pauw 

Stats Summary: USA / RSA
Shots: 18 / 4
Shots on Goal: 6 / 2
Saves: 2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 10 / 2
Fouls: 11 / 10
Offside: 2 / 2 

Misconduct Summary:
USA Meghan Klingenberg (caution)           84th minute
RSA – Nompumelelo Nyandeni (caution)       90+2

Officials:
Referee: Maria Serpas (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Elizabeth Aguilar (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Emperatriz Ayala (SLV)
4th Official: Sandra Arteaga (SLV) 

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Hope Solo

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Competitive Year Comes to an End as WNT Sets Sights On World Cup Qualification in 2018

A year that featured much experimenting, successes and struggles, but in the end, significant growth, has come to an end. Through 16 games in 2017, the U.S. WNT finished with 12-3-1 record with the three losses coming to the third, fourth and sixth ranked teams in the world.

While U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis and her staff knew that this year would be challenging due the difficult schedule chock-full of highly ranked teams and the necessary infusion of new players, they were determined to squeeze as much out of it as possible, with the focus being the lessons learned rather than the results obtained.

“I recognized that this year would give us the ability to play incredible teams and deepen our pool,” Ellis said. “Those were the two goals we set to start this year. So, would I check those boxes? Yes.”

Deepening the pool meant giving new players opportunities, and trying new things within a team that is competitive, fierce and bursting at the seams with talent. Ellis saw 55 players in a training camp environment this past year and since October of 2016 has giving 13 players first caps. Veterans and rookies mixed during training camps and on the field during games while everyone was given a blank slate to earn a place in the pool moving forward into a crucial 2018. [Read More]

WNT - Sofia Huerta, Carli Lloyd
Sofia Huerta and Carli Lloyd

“We got to see a lot of players and I’m excited about the future,” Ellis said. “The players that have come through this process and the games they’ve experienced, those are things you can’t replicate. That’s why you put the players into these environments. Sometimes there are tough lessons, but that’s how you grow.”

Some of those lessons came in the form of three losses, dealing with a few injuries, and one insanely dramatic last-minute comeback win. Losing three games in a year, albeit to talented teams, is not what the USA is accustomed to or expects of itself. That said, it’s true that you learn more from losing than winning, and learning is a priority with World Cup qualifying next fall and the World Cup still 18 months away. The most important takeaway is that there has been progress along the way.

“This year we’ve played a higher level of competition, played more top-20 teams, and we’ve done it with several players who have very little experience, or partnering them with someone that has very little experience,” Ellis said of the 2017 slate. “That’s part of taking your lumps at times because you have to believe in your process. I know that when we come out on the backside of this, we’ll now we have 18 months to build. Some teams are going into that process now and we’re coming out of it, evaluating our players with a solid 18 months to really grow and develop a starting lineup and a squad of 23 that I think will be hard to deal with.”

WNT - Sam Mewis
Sam Mewis vs. England on March 4, 2017 at the SheBelieves Cup.

Below is a breakdown of the WNT’s 16-game schedule this past year, which included seven of the other nine teams in the top-10 of the FIFA Women’s World Rankings, excluding only the Netherlands (which the USA played in September of 2016) and North Korea, making this the most difficult schedule ever in the year after the World Cup/Olympic cycle. 

2017 U.S. WNT SCHEDULE & RESULTS

Opponent

Date

FIFA Ranking

Result
(12-3-1)

Goal Scorers

Germany

March 1

2nd

1-0: USA Win

Lynn Williams

England

March 4

3rd

0-1: ENG Win

--

France

March 7

4th

0-3: FRA Win

--

Russia

April 6
April 9

25th

4-0: USA Win
5-1: USA Win

Crystal Dunn (2), Allie Long (2)
Carli Lloyd, Rose Lavelle, Crystal Dunn (2), OG

Sweden

June 8*

11th

1-0: USA Win

Rose Lavelle

Norway

June 11*

14th

1-0: USA Win

Christen Press

Australia

July 27

6th

0-1: AUS Win

--

Brazil

July 30

9th

4-3: USA Win

Samantha Mewis, Press, Megan Rapinoe, Julie Ertz

Japan

Aug. 3

8th

3-0: USA Win

Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh, Alex Morgan

New Zealand

Sept. 15
Sept. 19

19th

3-1: USA Win
5-0: USA Win

Morgan, Ertz (2)
Lindsey Horan, Pugh, Morgan (2), Williams

Korea Republic

Oct. 19
Oct. 22

15th

3-1: USA Win
6-0: USA Win

Ertz, Morgan, Rapinoe
Mewis (2), Ertz, Press, Williams, Long

Canada

Nov. 9*
Nov. 12

5th

1-1: Draw
3-1: USA Win

Morgan
Ertz, Morgan, Lloyd

*Represents away games

The 2017 schedule featured numerous positive takeaways. In the first three games of the year at the SheBelieves Cup, fans witnessed the blossoming of Rose Lavelle against some of the best players in the world. She made one of the best debuts in recent memory, dazzling with her skills against England. Against Russia a month later, she scored her first goal and pulled a few more video game-worthy moves out of her bag.

In Europe in June against Sweden and Norway, it was all about grit and finding a way to win on the road after long travel and little rest with many players who had never experienced playing a tough team on the road. Both games developed in similar fashion and the USA produced a game-winning goal in the second half after battling in the first 45 minutes of play.

Back stateside in the Tournament of Nations, the U.S. had a less than ideal tournament opener, dropping a tight 1-0 decision to Australia. What followed was probably the most exciting game of the year, an epic 4-3 comeback win against Brazil in San Diego. It was a classic U.S. WNT battle-until-the-end kind of performance and it helped propel a seven-game unbeaten streak to close out 2017.

U.S. WNT - Rapinoe, Ertz, Pugh
Rapinoe and Ertz scored the game-tying and game-winning goals, respectively, in the dramatic comeback win vs. Brazil at ToN.

The final six friendlies provided a strong closing to this year, with players such as Julie Ertz and Alex Morgan providing much of the goal scoring, Megan Rapinoe, and Lindsey Horan showing their confidence and play-making, while Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Samantha Mewis and Ertz providing a solid spine down the middle.

“We have tried a lot of new things this year,” Mewis said following the final game of 2017. “There’s a lot of players with fewer caps that have been getting a lot of experience. It’s also been cool for me to get a lot of playing time and it’s been good for the team to grow as a unit. The depth of the group has grown and we have some things in our back pocket now. Moving forward I think this will have been an important year to look back on.”

After a much needed and well-deserved break, the WNT will get back together in January as it builds towards the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship where it will try to earn one of three spots for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France that is set to kick off on June 7, 2019.


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WNT Nov 17, 2017

Alex Morgan Scores Six Goals in WNT's Final Six Games of 2017

The Alex Morgan that has become familiar to fans worldwide is the one who is constantly creating danger in front of the net. Fortunately for the USA and the Orlando Pride, and unfortunately for opponents, that’s the Alex Morgan everyone has been seeing over the past several months.

Since Aug. 3 she scored, or had an assist, in almost every game she played for a total of 15 goals in 17 matches for club and country combined.

“I feel really good,” Morgan said following the USA’s 3-1 win against Korea Republic in New Orleans. “I don’t know that I’m at the peak of my career, but I’m definitely in form and I feel really good with where I am right now. It’s been a positive year for me and I want to continue to build off that these next three games that we have to end this 2017.”

U.S. WNT - Alex Morgan

After spending the first half of the year in France playing for Olympique Lyonnais where she scored 12 goals in 14 games and helped the club win league, Cup and Champions League titles, Morgan returned to the Pride in late June and played her first NWSL minutes of the season on July 1 as Orlando faced Chicago. Morgan came in the second half to play the final 25 minutes.

She scored her first two goals of the 2017 NWSL season on July 15 in a 4-1 Pride win vs. FC Kansas City, but her six-week run of goals began on Aug. 3 against Japan in the final game of the WNT at the 2017 Tournament of Nations. The Southern California native scored once to put the finishing touch on a terrific 3-0 performance in front of 23,161 fans at StubHub Center in Carson.

Two days later, she pulled on the purple jersey of Orlando and scored the lone goal in a 1-1 draw against the Red Stars to earn a point and keep the Pride in playoff contention.

Since then, Morgan featured on the score sheet – whether with a goal or an assist – for every game Orlando played in August and in three out of the six games the club played in September and October.

She scored once against Washington on Aug. 8 in a 3-0 Orlando triumph, and then went on to score back-to-back braces on Aug. 13 and Aug. 19 against Sky Blue FC and Boston, respectively.

On Aug. 26, Morgan scored a dramatic game-winner against FC Kansas City in the 87th minute, picked up an assist on Sept. 2 against Boston, and then scored another late-game score on Sept. 7 when her tally in the 92nd minute had won the game before Jess Fishlock tied it up for Seattle in the 94th minute.

During the six WNT fall friendlies, Morgan continued her terrific form. She scored against New Zealand on Sept. 15 in Colorado, and then had a brace on Sept. 19 in Cincinnati. On Oct. 19 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Morgan scored yet again, this one a spectacular shot off a gif-able spin move that came when she took down a short cross from Kelley O’Hara and blasted a left-footed shot into the roof of the net. She did not score but had an assist on Oct. 22, and then was back at it in November, scoring the lone U.S. goal in Vancouver against Canada on Nov. 9, and then earning an assist and scoring another goal on Nov. 12 in San Jose to finish with a team best seven goals in 2017. Morgan has now upped her career total to 80, passing Cindy Parlow, and is in sole possession of seventh place in the all-time WNT scoring list.

MORGAN FROM AUG. 3 - NOV. 12

DATE

TEAM

GOALS

ASSISTS

FINAL SCORE

Aug. 3

U.S. WNT vs. JPN

1 GOAL

--

3-0 W

Aug. 5

Orlando Pride vs. Chicago

1 GOAL

--

1-1 D

Aug. 8

Orlando Pride vs. Washington

1 GOAL

1 ASSIST

3-0 W

Aug. 12

Orlando Pride vs. Sky Blue

2 GOALS

1 ASSIST

5-0 W

Aug. 19

Orlando Pride vs. Boston

2 GOALS

--

2-1 W

Aug. 26

Orlando Pride vs. Kansas City

1 GOAL

--

2-1 W

Sept. 2

Orlando Pride vs. Boston

--

1 ASSIST

4-2 W

Sept. 7

Orlando Pride vs. Seattle

1 GOAL

--

1-1 D

Sept. 15

U.S. WNT vs. NZL

1 GOAL

--

3-1 W

Sept. 19

U.S. WNT vs. NZL

2 GOALS

--

5-0 W

Sept. 23

Orlando Pride vs. Portland

--

--

0-0 D

Sept. 30

Orlando Pride vs. Courage

--

1 ASSIST

3-2 W

Oct. 7

Orlando Pride vs. Thorns

--

--

4-1 L

Oct. 19

U.S. WNT vs. KOR

1 GOAL

--

3-1 W

Oct. 22

U.S. WNT vs. KOR



1 ASSIST

6-0 W

Nov. 9

U.S. WNT vs. CAN

1 GOAL

--

1-1 D

Nov. 12

U.S. WNT vs. CAN

1 GOAL

1 ASSIST

3-1 W

While she has struggled with a few injuries over the past year, the latter part of this 2017 has seen a healthy and lethal Morgan finding her goal-scoring form. U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis says there’s no sight more encouraging than having an in-form Morgan running at opponents’ back lines.

“I’m incredibly proud of Alex,” Ellis said following the match on Oct. 19. “She dealt with a lot early on in this year in terms of injuries and she has over the past couple of years. I think [her success] is a combination. She’s getting valuable minutes, she’s growing into the tempo of games and getting more touches. Her time with the Orlando and getting her regular minutes there, I think that helped. But it’s also her mindset. Alex is hungry to prove herself. She is a predator, she tries to get on the end of balls and she’s battling for balls and working hard to regain. She generates a lot of her attack from her defensive pressure. I’m incredibly proud that she’s got back to this point. When Alex is moving and aggressive on both sides of the ball, I see the types pf performances that you’re seeing, someone who’s incredibly hungry to score goals.”

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WNT Nov 17, 2017

The WNT Experiment Paying Off for Ellis and the USA

A layman’s way to describe an experiment would probably be something like this: let’s try some things, and some more things, in a detailed and conscientious way, until we can find out some answers to our questions that are based on facts.

Following the cycle of the 2015 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis knew that for this team to be successful in 2019 and 2020, the team would need to grow and evolve. How and in what way? That would involve looking at numerous players in difficult environments against quality opponents, and at times in some different formations. In effect, she would have to do some experimenting.

It has been clear for more than a few years that the world is catching up in women’s soccer. The Netherlands are the 2017 Women’s EURO champions, dethroning perennial title holder Germany and defeating Denmark in the final. Spain, one of the most exciting of the up-and-coming teams, won its first Algarve Cup earlier this year. It’s no longer David vs. Goliath. There are more Goliaths out there and many of the Davids are getting quite good as well.

With the playing field continuing to level, it of course follows that the USA needs to continue to evolve to remain at the top of the mountain. Because of this, the focus naturally shifted from what this team was, to what it could be in 2019 and 2020. It is actually a golden opportunity.

When Ellis took the head coaching job in May of 2014, she had just a short time to prepare for qualifying and then just eight months before the start of the Women’s World Cup.  The run to the Olympics was similarly accelerated. Now, she’s had the chance to take the time to do the work in building and finding answers as an important 2018 draws closer.

That process has been built on the evaluation of players – veterans, less experienced players and newcomers, and Ellis has certainly shown she is willing to give players’ chances.


Five players earned a first cap on Oct. 19, 2016. Since then, Ellis has given a first cap to eight more players.

Here are some facts and figures since October of 2016 regarding call-ups by Ellis and her staff.

  • Total number of players called in for at least one training camp: 55
  • Total number of new players called-up for the first time: 24
  • Players that have seen game action over the past 13 months: 34
  • Number of players to earn first caps: 13 – Abby Dahlkemper, Ashley Hatch, Andi Sullivan, Casey Short, Jane Campbell, Jessica McDonald, Kealia Ohai, Lynn Williams, Megan Oyster, Rose Lavelle, Sofia Huerta, Taylor Smith and McCall Zerboni.

“Those numbers are reflective of the process that we committed to,” Ellis said of the deep dive into personnel over the last year or so, which is even more extensive when one considers the dozens of NWSL games she and her staff took in this season. “Even when you are a team that is always expected to win every game, sometimes you have to set a goal and you have to experiment and try new things. We put these players into tough positions early on. We had them playing with different people alongside them and that was going to be challenging. But if you believe in the process it will pay off, and it already has paid off from the emergence of some of these players."

Those include Samantha Mewis, Andi Sullivan, Rose Lavelle, Abby Dahlkemper, Lynn Williams, Taylor Smith to name a few, all talented players under the age of 25 working hard for a place on the new look WNT. The period of experimentation has also provided positive results among more experienced players who are finding success in different positions, as Julie Ertz performed very well in the central midfield, as has Lindsey Horan, while the USA’s plethora of attacking talent continues to battle for playing time.

WNT - Rose Lavelle
Rose Lavelle shined in her U.S. WNT debut earlier this year on March 4, 2017 against England. 

“This time has given us an opportunity to look at players in different spots, look at different systems and see a player’s role and see how it might change and shift,” Ellis said. “We want to be a naturally, aggressive pressing team and if those are the things that we want, now we look at our personnel, and through this year we feel very confident that we have a tactically flexible team that also plays incredibly well out of the 4-3-3.”

When there are new and youngers players inserted into one of the most competitive teams in the world, the transition will not always be smooth or easy. Early in 2017, the USA lost back-to-back games against France and England during the SheBelieves Cup. It also lost to Australia at the Tournament of Nations. But the WNT also defeated Sweden (1-0) and Norway (1-0) this past June with low-scoring but gritty performances abroad after long travel and little rest, and won six straight games while scoring three or more goals in all of them. It then concluded 2017 with a 1-1 draw in Vancouver and a 3-1 win in San Jose, both against Canada, the fifth-ranked team in the world. It’s been a difficult year, but also a positive one filled with learning and growth, and to Ellis that is a lot more valuable right now.

“When you take over a team, you take some time to assess and evaluate, to know what the strengths are and build from those,” Ellis said. “Going into 2015, we had very limited time and the team was pretty much set, but [after 2016] I’ve been really pleased that this window of time has enabled us to examine everything about this team and how to build on the strengths of our players. Occasionally you learn more from failing, but this is the process we decided to go through. We knew it would be challenging, but it’s certainly paid off so far and we still have a long way to go.”

WNT - Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper
New pairings have beginning to take shape in the last 13 months, one is the one of Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper in the back line.

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WNT Nov 17, 2017

Five Things to Know About Julie Ertz

On October 19, 2017, U.S. Women’s National Team defender Julie Ertz scored her 12th career goal, and fourth of 2017, finishing a spectacular diving header against the Korea Republic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Three days later, she scored her fifth of the year and 13th of her career, once again vs. Korea Republic. She went on to close 2017 by scoring her 14th career goal against Canada on Nov. 12 in San Jose. Here are five things to know about the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup champion from the desert.

Developing in Arizona and California
Julie Ertz (neé) Johnston, known to fans and friends as JJ, was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona. The youngest of two – her sister Melanie also played soccer in college – Ertz always dreamed of becoming a professional player. While many young athletes aspire to play at the top levels, most have other various ideas of what they might want to be when they grow up. For Ertz, that was never the case.

“The most common question I always get is, ‘What would you do if you weren’t a soccer player?’,” said Ertz. “And I make up stuff every single time. I never say the same thing, because honestly I have never thought about not playing.”


For Julie Ertz, it's always been about soccer.

From 2004-10, Ertz played for Sereno Soccer Club in Phoenix, where she played on the U-13 through U-19 teams, winning nine state titles and captaining of the team.

Ertz attended Dobson High School in Mesa from 2006-10, where she volunteered as a student athletic trainer all four years. Following her graduation, Ertz went on to play at Santa Clara University, where she majored in Communications and played on all three lines for the Broncos. She was a three-time First Team All-American.

U-20 World Champion in 2012
In 2012, Julie Johnston was selected to the roster for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan. She was also named the team’s captain. At that tournament, JJ not only started every game (and played all but 32 minutes of the tournament), but she also marshalled a defense that defeated three extremely talented group winners in the knockout rounds of the tournament -- Korea DPR in the quarterfinal, Nigeria in the semifinal and Germany in the championship -- while allowing just one goal. She also won the Bronze Ball as the third-best player in the tournament, a rare honor for a defender.


In 2012, Ertz not only captain the U-20 WNT to a U-20 WWC title, but she also won the Bronze Ball as the third best player of the tournament. She then went on to win the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, this time with the full U.S. WNT.

New Role, Always Versatile
Ertz, who has always been known for her heavy tackles and overall aggressiveness on the field, has spent most of her professional career as a center back, scoring eight of her first nine U.S. WNT goals from that position. In the latter part of this year she has embraced a new role for the National Team, though for Ertz it’s more of a return to her college roots.

U.S. WNT - Julie Ertz, Alex Morgan
It's been a terrific year for Ertz, who so far has score five goals in 2017.

Back during her years at Santa Clara University, she played multiple positions, including many a shift in the center of midfield. This season in the NWSL with the Chicago Red Stars, Ertz played primarily defensive midfielder, and since Aug. 3, that’s where she’s played with the WNT. She’s looked extremely comfortable, in part because she’s played there before, but also in part because the qualities needed to play both positions are quite similar.

“There are definitely a lot of similarities between playing as a center back and as a defensive midfielder,” Ertz said. “They’re both more defensive-minded positions. I’ve learned both and I’ve always appreciated the value of being a versatile player. I think my mindset every year is that I want to get better. Playing different positions is definitely challenging, but it’s also been extremely fun.”

Part of the fun of course, is scoring goals. Ertz scored six goals in the final eight games in 2017 – which included her game-winning goal against Brazil at the Tournament of Nations on July 30, a brace against New Zealand on Sept. 15, a goal against Korea Republic on Oct. 19 and again on Oct. 22 and most recently against Canada on Nov. 12.

Set Piece Queen
The most interesting aspect to all of Ertz' 14 tallies so far? They’ve all come on or originated from set pieces.

While Ertz had always been a threat inside the box during set pieces, her “new” role in the midfield has given her more opportunity to go forward and get into goal scoring positons. So far, it’s proven to be a boost for the U.S. and a problem for opposing defenses.

“She fills that role perfectly,” U.S. co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn said of Ertz following the game against Korea Republic on. Oct. 19. “We want that kind of a pivot player, someone who is going to break up plays and has that physicality.”

The Ertzs: Futbol & Football
In pro sports, there are many athletic couples, and then there are power athletic couples. Julie Ertz and her husband are the latter. Julie Ertz, 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cup Champion, 2015 Women’s World Cup Champion and 2016 Olympian, is married to Zach Ertz, a former Stanford All-American and starting tight end for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.

Julie has been on the U.S. WNT for almost six years now, while Zach is currently in his fifth season with the Eagles. In 2017, Julie has scored six goals for the USA, while Zach has six touchdowns for Philly, but he does have a few more games left in the season. Each gives credit to the other for helping them navigate the ups and downs of professional sports (they both turned pro around the same time) while pushing each other to be their best physically and mentally. It’s a combination that makes them one of the most competitive, successful and dominant couples in sports.


#GoUSA and #FlyEaglesFly are common sayings in the Ertz household.

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WNT Nov 17, 2017
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