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An early look at Andonovski’s USWNT warriors and artists

Photo Copyright Hannah di Lorenzo for The Equalizer

Four minutes into his first postgame press conference as United States women’s national team head coach, Vlatko Andonovski made a relatively innocuous comment.

“True warrior. Absolute warrior,” Andonovski said. He was describing Julie Ertz, who played 45 minutes as a defensive midfield in the U.S.’ 3-2 victory over Sweden that evening in Columbus, Ohio.

Such words have been used before to describe Ertz. She’s a ruthless ball-winner who might just have been the most important player in the star-studded U.S. team’s run to a second straight World Cup title earlier this year. She can win 50-50 balls in midfield, snuff out attacks as a center back and score goals with her head — and she frequently does all of those things in one game. And she’s tough. The sight of her playing with a bloody gauze pad hanging from her mouth earlier this year was neither surprising to observers nor bothersome to Ertz.

But Andonovski wasn’t talking about the physicality of his midfielder in a traditional sense. He was, in general terms, but the word “warrior” meant something more.

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