(Photo credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)
Julie Ertz bid farewell to the U.S. women's national team with a 3-0 victory against South Africa in a friendly in Cincinnati on Thursday.
The two-time World Cup champion (2015, 2019) left in the 35th minute to a prolonged standing ovation, moments after the U.S. took a 2-0 lead.
Ertz, who debuted for the U.S. in 2013, finished with a 101-17-5 record in 123 international matches and was twice named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year (2017, '19).
On Thursday, Lynn Williams scored twice for the U.S., which was playing in its first match since it lost to Sweden on penalties on Aug. 6 in the round of 16 of the Women's World Cup. That was the first time the four-time champions had not reached the semifinals.
Ertz took 18 months off following the Olympics in 2021 because of injuries and the birth of her son, but she played every minute of all four World Cup matches.
Soon after the tournament, Twila Kilgore was named interim coach following the resignation of Vlatko Andonovski.
The match Thursday in Cincinnati was all about honoring Ertz, who announced her retirement on Aug. 31. She wore the captain's armband and her teammates tried to set her up for her 21st goal -- to no avail, although she came close.
In the 18th minute, the midfielder headed a corner kick by Lindsey Horan over the bar; three minutes later, her header from another corner by Horan was easily saved by Kaylin Swart.
Williams scored in the 32nd minute off a flick by Horan, and Trinity Rodman made it 2-0 in the 34th, leading to the final send-off for Ertz. Williams got her brace in the 41st minute.
Alyssa Naeher made one save for her eighth shutout this season.
Defender M.A. Vignola made her debut in her hometown in the 46th minute.
Ertz will not play against South Africa in Chicago on Sunday in what will be another emotional goodbye as Megan Rapinoe plays her final U.S. match. She will complete her club season with OL Reign of the NWSL before retiring.
-- Field Level Media