Two-time U.S. Soccer Player of the Year and former Santa Clara star Julie Ertz has retired from soccer after a 10-year career that included back-to-back Women’s World Cup titles.
Ertz, 31, had already hinted at her retirement at this summer’s World Cup after the United States fell to Sweden on penalties in the Round of 16, tearfully telling reporters it was likely her final match wearing the team crest. She made it official Thursday.
“I gave everything I had to the sport that I love,” she said in a statement announcing her retirement. “With that I can walk away with no regrets because while I gave soccer every ounce of myself, soccer gave me even more, and for that I’ll always be thankful.”
An Arizona native, Ertz went by her maiden name Julie Johnston when she starred at Santa Clara from 2010-2013, scoring 31 goals in 79 matches for the Broncos. She was Santa Clara’s leading goalscorer in two of her four years and had the most assists or tied for the most assists in three years.
She also met her husband, former Stanford football standout and current Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz, while she was in the Bay Area. Those local roots had led many to link Ertz to the National Women’s Soccer League’s new team Bay FC, which kicks off in San Jose next spring, as the club’s potential first big name signing.
That was never a guarantee, though, largely because it wasn’t even clear if Ertz would return to soccer in 2023 before she was named to this summer’s World Cup team. She nursed a knee injury before playing in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, helping the U.S. win a bronze medal, then took time off for the birth of her son last year.
But she appeared in a pair of exhibition matches against Ireland in April and signed a one-year deal with Angel City, the NWSL team in Los Angeles, to work her way back into game shape.
Known for her versatility, Ertz played a defensive midfield position for the 2019 World Cup championship team. She was a center back in the 2015 tournament, which the United States also won.
Ertz played at center back in this year’s tournament, filling in for injured veteran Becky Sauerbrunn.
“The future is in absolutely great hands,” Ertz told reporters at the World Cup after the earliest exit ever for the United States. “You know, sometimes you learn the most from your failures, which sucks. But it’s part of my career as well.”
Ertz finishes her national team career with 20 goals in 122 appearances. She played in 17 World Cup matches, starting all of them, and was named U.S. Soccer’s Player of the Year in 2017 and 2019.
She scored six goals in 95 games with the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars from 2014-2021. She played in three games for Angel City this season with one goal.
While the retirement means Ertz won’t play for Bay FC and the club’s four owners who also all starred at Santa Clara, there remains a chance Ertz could join Bay FC in a different capacity — perhaps, even, as a part-owner herself.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.