USWNT expect midfielder Julie Ertz back from knee injury in time for Tokyo Olympics
28th May 2021

With a little less than two months until the Tokyo Olympics, the U.S. women's national soccer team got their first win.

Midfielder Julie Ertz, one of the team’s most indispensable players, is “fine” after an MCL injury, and coach Vlatko Andonovski said Tuesday he expects she’ll be able to play in the send-off series in early July.

“Right now, her progression is going well,” Andonovski said of Ertz, who was not included on the 23-player roster for games against Portugal, Jamaica and Nigeria next month in Texas. “She’s started off back jogging, but we’re going to be very careful in how we approach her recovery and make sure she’s 100 percent.”

Ertz, who plays for the Chicago Red Stars, was hurt in a May 16 NWSL game against the Portland Thorns.

The injury prompted fears of a worst-case scenario for the U.S. women because while they have depth at midfield, they don’t have anyone else like Ertz. Her ability to both clog up the midfield defensively and start the buildup on offense is invaluable.

Midfielder Julie Ertz (8) plays in a USWNT game against Brazil during the She Believes Cup on Feb 21, 2021. (Photo: Mike Watters, USA TODAY Sports)

She started all but one game as the U.S. women won both the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, and leads the Americans in minutes this year, playing in all seven games.

Tobin Heath, who hasn’t played since January because of ankle and knee injuries, also was left off the roster, though she’ll join the U.S. women at camp as a training player. Andonovski said Heath has been working with trainers and Under-20 coach Laura Harvey, and said he hopes she, too, would be ready for the send-off series.

“It’s day by day,” Andonovski said. “As she’s progressing, she will get more and more (work). She’s still not fully recovered enough to be with (the) team and practice 100 percent.”

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