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2023 Women's World Cup

What will the return of Julie Ertz mean for USWNT tactics?

• Julie Ertz has not played a competitive match in two years
• Ertz probably can’t fill the exact same rule she used to, so what is her new role?
• Bringing her back into the USWNT will require tactical adjustments… who drops from the starting lineup?

Ertz is a center-back turned defensive midfielder with two World Cup winner’s medals in her possession. There were times when she performed both roles during the 2019 World Cup run—in the quarterfinal win over France and the semifinal win over England, she started out as the team’s defensive midfielder before taking on a center-back role to close out the game. Her role within the system was key, shuttling up and down, side-to-side, and protecting the back line. 

A fearless competitor who led by example, she relished 1-versus-1 battles like no other, was imposing in the tackle, quick across the ground, and strong in the air. She distributed the ball efficiently too, allowing more creative players like Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan freedom to do their thing. And, every now and then, she would crash the box to score off a cross or a corner kick.

That, however, was the past.

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