Women's World Cup: Banged-up USWNT stars Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz expected to play against Spain

REIMS, France — United States national team stars Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz are expected to be healthy and available for Monday’s FIFA Women’s World Cup round of 16 game against Spain, U.S. coach Jill Ellis said Sunday during her pre-match press conference at Stade Auguste-Delaune.

“Alex is fine,” Ellis said. “JJ is fine,” she added, referring to Ertz by her longtime nickname. (The former Julie Johnston married NFL player Zach Ertz in 2017.)

Ertz didn’t play in last week’s Group F-winning victory against Sweden after suffering a minor hip injury. Morgan started that contest but was substituted midway through after being kicked by a Swedish player. With the defending champion U.S. already guaranteed a spot in the elimination round, both moves were considered precautionary.

With five goals, all of them in the Americans’ tournament opener against Thailand, Morgan remains the joint-top scorer at France 2019 despite playing just 135 minutes so far. Morgan was rested for the June 16 group stage match versus Chile before returning to the lineup for the first round finale.

She and Ertz, who each started the USA’s first two games, were key members of the team that won its record third Women’s World Cup four years ago in Canada.

United States midfielder Julie Ertz, left, and United States forward Alex Morgan warm up during a soccer workout at Red Bull Arena, Saturday, May 25, 2019, in Harrison, N.J. The U.S. will play against Mexico in an international soccer friendly on Sunday. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)
U.S. coach Jill Ellis said Sunday that Alex Morgan, right, and Julie Ertz are "fine" for Monday's Women's World Cup round of 16 match against Spain. (Associated Press)

Morgan is now in pole position to become the first American to lead a World Cup in scoring since Michelle Akers did it at the inaugural event in 1991. Australian striker Sam Kerr, who also has five goals in France, won’t play again after the Matildas were knocked out of the competition by Norway on Saturday.

If the U.S. gets past Spain, it will meet the winner of Sunday’s France-Brazil tilt in the quarterfinals on June 28 in Paris.

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