Midfielder Julie Ertz is a surprise pick for the U.S. women’s soccer roster at CityPark

When the US Women's National Team meets Ireland at CityPark on April 11, it will be a homecoming for defender Becky Sauerbrunn, but it will be a comeback attempt for several players on the roster.

Coach Vlatko Andonovski announced the roster for the women's national team's final two games before having to select a 23-man roster for this summer's Women's World Cup, which begins July 20 in Australia and New Zealand, and the big surprise was the return of defensive midfielder Julie Ertz, a two-time WWC- champion, who has been out since the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after the birth of her first child in August 2022.

Also returning are defenseman Casey Krueger, who also had a child in 2022, who is in his first camp since October 2021; forward Sophia Smith, the 2022 NWSL and US Soccer Women's Player of the Year, who missed the first two events of the year due to injury; defenseman Tierna Davidson, out more than a year with ACL surgery; and defenseman and two-time World Cup winner Kelley O'Hara, who has not played for the United States since last summer due to injury.

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But the shocker is Ertz, a member of the 2015 and 2019 World Cup teams, is not currently playing in the NWSL, which seemed to rule her out of consideration for a World Cup spot. But Andonovski said Tuesday that she has been working with a coach and training with a boys team for MLS Next.

“She's committed to the game, she's committed to this team, and when I say committed — totally committed to every aspect of it,” he said. “She's ready physically, she's ready mentally, she's happy to be back in the environment. Most importantly, she feels confident that she can help this team win another title, and to me that's what means the most.”

“It's very exciting to be back with the team again, and I'm grateful to have this opportunity,” Ertz said in a statement from US Soccer. “I have to work out details about my club situation, but I'm very grateful to (her husband) Zach, my family and US Soccer for the amazing support they've given to get me back to this point. I've been training hard, exciting to see where I'm at physically and getting better every day. I'm going into this camp the same way I always have, to compete with the best women in the world.”

Signing with an NWSL team would allow Ertz, who turns 31 next week, to play more games and prove her readiness to Andonovski before he picks the final roster in June.

“If she comes close to her best, she will certainly help us win a World Cup,” Andonovski said. “If someone's 80 or 90 percent is still better than someone else's best, then that's a shame.”

Not called up for the game were forward Megan Rapinoe, who has a calf injury, and forward Catarina Macario, who is recovering from an ACL injury and is expected to return to her French club in April. Both are still in consideration for WC spots.

Sauerbrunn, a native of St. Louis and Ladue High grad, will be honored before the game for appearing in 200 games with the national team, a milestone she passed last year. She currently has 214 matches.

The U.S. team will face Ireland in Austin, Texas, on April 8 before coming to St. Louis. US Soccer said less than 1,000 tickets remain.

USA list

Goalkeepers: Adrianna Franch (Kansas City Current), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).

Defender: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Tierna Davidson (Chicago), Emily Fox (North Carolina), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Casey Krueger (Chicago), Kelley O ‘Hara (Gotham FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland), Emily Sonnett (OL Reign).

Midfielder: Julie Ertz (free agent), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyonnais), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington).

Forward: Ashley Hatch (Washington), Alex Morgan (San Diego), Trinity Rodman (Washington), Sophia Smith (Portland), Mallory Swanson (Chicago), Lynn Williams (Gotham FC).

Tom Timmermann and Carter Chapley say the schedule is about to get tougher for St. Louis City SC, but in the team's first five games, it has done everything that can be expected of it.

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