The 2019 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Friday, June 7 in France. The United States team is the defending champions but their path to repeating is a perilous one. The field is stronger than it ever has been before and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the top ten teams lifting the trophy on July 7.
To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.
Club: Chicago Red Stars
National team experience: Ertz has 82 appearances for the national team and has scored 18 goals. During the 2019 SheBelieves Cup, she never left the field.
What I wrote in 2015: She’s a calming and confidence inspiring presence for teammates and fans. The United States often dominates games and so [Ertz’s] main job from her central defensive position is to organize, play passes up to the midfielders, and stay vigilant against any budding counter-attacks. When the team faces tougher competition, as it will during the World Cup, it will be interesting to see if [Ertz] will be able to remain as physically dominant and mentally prepared as she has so far in her career. If she does, there’s no reason to think she won’t play every minute of the World Cup for team USA. Watch for her leaping, aerial runs to the near post on corner kicks and free kicks.
What to expect from Julie Ertz in 2019: Since the 2015 World Cup, Julie Ertz has been shifted from playing right next to Becky Sauerbrunn as a center defender to playing right in front of her as a defensive midfielder. In the realm of coach Jill Ellis’ much critisized positional fiddling around, this has been the most stable and most easily understandable move. Yes, Ertz was a rock in the back line, playing a big role in the 2015 World Cup win, but she’s been just as stable playing the “number 6” role. It suits her aggressive and competitive play even perhaps a bit better than central defender. As a central defender, your job is mostly to stand at the back and repel anyone who comes at you. As a central defensive midfielder, you’re often matched up one to one, mano a mano (hand to hand, not man to man, btw) with the best offensive player on the other team. That’s the type of direct challenge I can picture Julie Ertz really getting fired up for. In this year’s World Cup, that’s what I’d bet on — Ertz frustrating the hell out of the other team’s best attacker.
Non-gendered personal interest item: When asked about her ability to score goals on leaping headers by Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, Ertz responded, naturally, by talking about her aggressiveness. She said, “I just love trying to score, I guess… I’m not backing out, so someone has to…” You might think this is just fluff, unless you have ever seen her play or if you heard the next thing she said, which was “I’ve knocked my teeth out so many times. My mom’s so annoyed at how many times I’ve knocked out my teeth. She wants me to wear a mouthguard … My dentist is my uncle, and our family always jokes that’s one of the best family-member careers that could have been attached to our family, because I’m losing my teeth all the time.” LOL