Julie Ertz announces retirement: 'Soccer, you have shaped every part of who I am'

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 06: Julie Ertz of USA lines up for the national anthem prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Round of 16 match between Sweden and USA at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on August 06, 2023 in Melbourne / Naarm, Australia. (Photo by Alex Pantling - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Julie Ertz of USA is hanging up the boots. (Photo by Alex Pantling - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

United States Women's National Team star Julie Ertz is calling it a career, she announced in a statement via social media on Thursday.

The 31-year-old walks away from her international career with 122 appearances for the USWNT since her debut in 2013. In that span, she scored 20 goals and notched two World Cup wins in 2015 and 2019.

"Representing this country on the National Team has been the greatest honor," Ertz said in the statement. "To play for the USWNT means you choose greatness every day while you wear the crest. I hope that I was able to leave an impact that reflects that."

The news of her retirement comes after she appeared to allude to the decision following the USWNT's devastating loss to Sweden in the Women's World Cup Round of 16.

Ertz's performance in the Women's World Cup was another act in an inspiring comeback that began earlier in the year. She gave birth to her son, Madden, last August. In April, she played for the U.S. in two friendlies against Ireland. Shortly after, Ertz signed with NWSL team Angel City FC before being named to the U.S. World Cup roster in June.

Her decision is immediate. She will not return to Angel City to finish the NWSL season, citing the difficulties of balancing her career and motherhood. She played and started in seven matches before the World Cup, scoring one goal.

"These past 6 months have been a dream come true. After pregnancy, I never knew if l had a chance to play the beautiful game again, let alone another World Cup. Angel City was a huge reason any of this was a possibility," Ertz wrote. "The support from the staff and players can't be put into words to help me get back. I'm crushed to not be able to continue the push to playoffs and that made this decision incredibly difficult. The logistics of not living in an NWSL market is challenging, and I know the sacrifices it takes to be the best you can be. As I have gotten older and become a mom, it's clear the sacrifices of time away from my family no longer seem doable with so many factors at play."

In addition to extending gratitude to Angel City in the statement, Ertz thanked her other clubs, early youth teams, USWNT, NWSL, teammates, fans and family.

The Arizona native played a crucial role in helping the USA win back-to-back World Cups in 2015 and 2019. After playing center back in the '15 World Cup in Canada, she made a name as a top defensive midfielder in the world in France four years later.

She played the bulk of her professional club career for the Chicago Red Stars from 2014-21. The club selected her with the third overall pick in the 2014 NWSL Draft, and she went on to earn the 2014 NWSL Rookie of the Year.

Ertz is a two-time U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year (2017 and 2019). She retires as the only player to win the award and the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year award twice.