'We're able to play a different style' - Julie Ertz's potential USWNT World Cup impact emerges in NWSL performance for Angel City FC

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Julie Ertz Angel City FC San Diego Wave 2023
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Julie Ertz impressed in her return from a prolonged absence from soccer, showing with Angel City FC why she could star for the USWNT this summer.

WHAT HAPPENED? Ertz's return to high-level soccer has been stunningly quick, as she started for Angel City FC in a 2-0 loss to the San Diego Wave on Sunday just a week after signing with the NWSL club and a month after announcing her comeback. She played well, too, with teammates crediting her with adding a new dimension to their tactical approach.

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WHAT THEY SAID: “That was a big change [having Ertz with us],” captain Ali Riley said (via Soccer America). “We're able to play a different style because we have her there. ... We were able to win the ball back higher up the field. We had players playing the roles that they should be in, like Savannah McCaskill being closer to the goal, having Alyssa [Thompson] and Claire [Emslie] being able to go 1v1 on the wing.

“We have players more comfortable in their positions, and a lot of that is because we have the presence of Julie now, allowing players to be more attacking. ... I think we played a style of football that we've been aiming for.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Ertz was a crucial midfielder for the USWNT before she stepped away from soccer to raise a family and recover from a series of injuries sustained in the year leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. The squad has not found a proper replacement for her and she is now set to play an important role in this summer's Women's World Cup.

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WHAT NEXT? The USWNT will play a tune-up friendly against Wales on July 9 ahead of the World Cup.