CHICAGO (August 31, 2023) – Julie Ertz, one of the greatest competitors in U.S. Women’s National Team history and one of a select group of players to win FIFA World Cups at the youth and senior levels, has officially announced her retirement from professional soccer.
Ertz played a major part in helping the USA win back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cups, bursting onto the international scene in 2015 in Canada as a center back and then as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world in 2019 in France. She was off the field for 18 months following the Olympics in 2021 due to injuries and the birth of her son but made a comeback to play in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She was stellar in New Zealand and Australia, playing every minute of all four matches while marshaling a U.S. defense that allowed just two shots on goal over the four games.
Ertz is a two-time U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year (2017 and 2019) and is one of just five players to win both the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year (which she won in 2012) and the senior team award. She is the only player to win the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year and then win the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year twice.
“As an athlete you’re always singularly focused on the next goal, the next tournament and rarely do you get time to reflect on your career,” said Ertz. “However, over the past couple of months my heart has been filled with gratitude as I’ve thought about the amazing experiences soccer has given me. I’ve been blessed to meet and train with some of the best and most inspirational women I’ve ever been around, and I’ve experienced different cultures while traveling the world to compete at the highest level. I gave everything I had to the sport that I love. 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.”
A two-time Olympian, Ertz came back from a serious knee injury to play in the delayed 2020 Olympics in Japan, gutting out a performance that saw her start five of the six games and play the second-most minutes on the team while helping the USA capture bronze.
Ertz took some time off the field after the Olympics, and then announced her pregnancy in April of 2022. She gave birth to her son, Madden, on Aug. 11, 2022.
Ertz, 31, debuted for the USWNT in 2013 and her U.S. National Team career spanned 10 years. In her 122 caps, the USA had a record of 100W-17D-5L. Ertz played in 17 World Cup matches, all of which were starts, in which the USA amassed 13 wins and four draws while keeping 11 clean sheets.
In 2012, as a center back, she captained the USA to the title at the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan and was awarded the bronze ball as the third best player in the tournament, a rare tribute for a defensive player. Her performance helped her earn the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year accolade.
Over her career, Ertz developed into a fan favorite with her dynamic style of play which featured crunching tackles, a dominant aerial presence and an impressive 20 goals – many off set plays -- while playing in the back or at defensive midfield. Ertz’s 20 goals came against 15 different opponents: three against New Zealand, two against Korea Republic, Brazil and Colombia, and one each against France, Republic of Ireland, Haiti, Canada, Jamaica, Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, Denmark, Japan.
A defender during her first four years on the U.S. National Team, she came off the bench against Brazil in the 2017 Tournament of Nations to play defensive midfielder – a position she played all season for her pro club and in the past in college and for the U.S. Youth National Teams – and scored the dramatic game-winner in the 89th minute of a 4-3 comeback victory. From there, she started the final seven games of the year at defensive mid, scoring five more goals, and played all but 67 minutes over those games. Her six goals almost equaled her total (8) from her first four years on the WNT and she played so well and was so dominant that she was named the 2017 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year.
In the first match of the 2020 SheBelieves Cup against England on March 5, she became the 40th U.S. Women’s National Team player to hit 100 caps.
At the club level, Ertz played the majority of her professional club career for the Chicago Red Stars, spanning almost 100 games from 2014-2021. The Red Stars selected her with the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 NWSL Draft. She would go on to be named the 2014 NWSL Rookie of the Year. She returned to the NWSL in 2023 with Angel City FC and played in seven matches before the World Cup, all starts, while scoring one goal. She will not return to Angel City for the remainder of the NWSL season.
Julie Beth Johnston was born in Phoenix, Arizona and grew up in Mesa, where she excelled as a youth player with Sereno SC, with whom she won nine state titles. She first became part of the U.S. National Teams program at the Under-14 level. She earned a scholarship to Santa Clara University, where she was a First-Team All-American and the West Coast Conference Player of the Year as a senior. She was also the WWC Freshman of the Year during her rookie campaign. She earned her first senior team cap in 2013 against Scotland and scored her first senior team goal at the Algarve Cup in Portugal in 2015 vs. France.
In 2017, she married NFL tight end Zach Ertz, who is currently with the Arizona Cardinals and was a Super Bowl champion with the Philadelphia Eagles, catching the game-winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl LII.
In 2018, she and Zach started the Ertz Family Foundation with a mission of empowering others by sharing faith, learning through sports and advancing education to build supportive communities, with the goals of transforming lives through faith, hope and love. Her work with the Foundation continues.