Two-time World Cup champion Julie Ertz will wear the United States soccer crest one last time on Thursday before she retires from soccer to prioritize motherhood and family.

The midfielder and center back will be honored in a pregame ceremony ahead of the U.S. team’s game against South Africa in Cincinnati.

Why did Julie Ertz retire?

Ertz gave birth to her son Madden in August 2022 and returned to professional soccer in April when she signed with the National Women’s Soccer League’s Angel City FC. She then played for the U.S. in the World Cup.

“I think time with my family is just irreplaceable, especially just with where Madden is in his age,” she told reporters in a video posted by the team on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday.

Ertz said she wants the world to know that she’s not walking away because she can’t play anymore. She played in all four of the U.S. team’s World Cup matches this summer.

“I do feel like I could step away and be like, ‘It’s not because Momma can’t play. Momma can play. She has just adapted (her) priorities.’ And I think that just comes with age and just I feel like I’ve been so blessed to have the career that I’ve had,” she said.

Ertz got emotional when discussing retirement in the video and peeled back the curtain on how she came to the decision to retire.

“There’s just some part in your heart that you just know, and I think that’s closure enough for me. I think that’s why I’m so grateful to have this last game and close the chapter and say bye,” she said. “I feel like if I retired five years ago, if I retire in 10 years, the day that you choose (to retire from) the sport that (you’ve known) your whole life is just a sad day.”

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Ertz initially alluded to retirement when speaking with ESPN after the team’s World Cup elimination. She said that was her “last time in this crest.”

Before Thursday’s match, Ertz scored 20 goals for the U.S. in 122 games. Ertz played in all but one of the U.S. national team’s 18 matches in the past three World Cups, according to U.S. Soccer. She played in her first game for the U.S. in February 2013.

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Who is Julie Ertz married to?

Ertz’s husband Zach Ertz, a tight end for the Arizona Cardinals, shared a message for her in a video the Cardinals posted on X, telling her how proud he is to be her husband.

“Julie, you’ve given your everything to this game. You’ve won at the highest levels and have done it with grace, commitment, passion and courage. Madden and I couldn’t be more proud of what you’ve done and more importantly who you are,” he said. “I’m just proud to be your husband, to be your partner during this whole time, and I hope you take this all in and can truly walk away from this game knowing you’ve given each and every part of your being, your soul to be the best version of yourself, the best teammate you could be and that you have no regrets when you walk away from this thing. We’re so proud of you and we love you.”

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