United States women's national team defender Julie Ertz appeared to announce her retirement from international soccer following Sunday's devastating loss to Sweden in the Women's World Cup Round of 16.
The 5-4 penalty shootout defeat featured dominant periods for the USWNT and ultimately marked the team's earliest exit from a Women's World Cup in history. After burying her face in her hands as she squatted on the pitch, Ertz reportedly indicated the end of her run.
"Unfortunately this is my last time in this crest," Ertz said via ESPN.
This comes after Ertz hinted at retiring in a postmatch interview with Jenny Taft on Fox Sports:
"It's an honor to represent this team, and I'm excited for the future of these girls."
The @USWNT legend Julie Ertz speaks with @JennyTaft after the United States' Round of 16 match 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/Qc9G5jPTXy
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 6, 2023
"For me, it's just emotional because it was probably my last game ever being able to have the honor to wear this crest," Ertz told Taft. "Penalties are the worst, but it's an honor to represent this team and I'm excited for the future of the girls."
Ertz gave birth to her son, Madden, last August. Her performance in the Women's World Cup was another act in a stellar comeback that began earlier this year. In April, she played for the U.S. in two friendlies with Ireland. Soon after, Ertz signed with NWSL team Angel City FC before being named to the U.S. World Cup roster in June.
She was expected to play holding midfielder in her return to the World Cup but was moved to center-back after U.S. captain Becky Sauerbrunn sustained a foot injury. The shift allowed Ertz to reprise the position she played during the 2015 World Cup.
She and 23-year-old Naomi Girma were a crucial presence for the U.S., with Girma serving as a member of the team's promising young core.
"Kelley [O'Hara] always says that we just rent these jerseys and it's the job to pass it down to the younger ones to continue that in their DNA," Ertz said on Fox. "It's been an absolute ride. I've learned so much about myself as a player but even just as a person. This team obviously competes and plays soccer, but it does so much more and I'm just very grateful."
Ertz emphasized her optimism about the USWNT's youth when she spoke with ESPN.
"The future is in absolutely great hands," she said. "You know, sometimes you learn the most from your failures, which sucks. But it's part of my career as well."
If Ertz feels the same about potentially retiring once emotions settle, she will walk away from her international career with 122 appearances for the USWNT. In that span, she scored 20 goals and notched two World Cup wins in 2015 and 2019.