The argument that Julie Ertz is one of the most integral parts of the U.S. women’s national team lineup is hard to deny. She imposes a physical presence in the midfield, and her vocal leadership lends a much needed anchor to the roster as it gels before the 2019 World Cup.
But after another frustrating 2-2 draw in this year’s SheBelieves Cup — this time against England — the bigger question rolling into June remains one of where she needs to be on the field.
For her club team, the Chicago Red Stars, Ertz’s midfield success has always come in a very specific role, and upon her return from injury in early 2018, she had some trouble meshing well on the field with the team’s natural No. 6, Danielle Colaprico. However, despite returning to the central defense for much of Chicago’s run to the 2018 National Women’s Soccer League playoffs, Ertz has remained the U.S.’ great hope in defensive midfield – the stalwart, heir-apparent to Lauren Holiday that the team has been looking for since 2015.
Ertz has proven her versatility for some time; she clearly adapted as a young player to the second center-back role throughout the 2015 World Cup, and she’s shown in the years since that she can be a tenacious attacking player, both in the run of play and as a target on set pieces. However, on Saturday afternoon, as with a number of recent games, this sense of versatility led to unfocused assignments and gaps of space littering the U.S. midfield.
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