U.S. women’s soccer team experiments in Julie Ertz’s absence

U.S. women’s soccer team experiments in Julie Ertz’s absence

The unforgiving Texas sun beat down on members of the U.S. Women’s National Team as they took the field for training at BBVA Stadium on Wednesday morning. It was around 11 a.m., and already the temperature neared 90 degrees. The humidity was stifling.

Coach Vlatko Andonovski pronounced the weather “brutal.” Midfielder Rose Lavelle proclaimed it “something else.”

For the best soccer players in the world, the heat is on in Houston — literally and figuratively.

The USWNT plays two matches at BBVA Stadium this week — Thursday versus Portugal and Sunday versus Jamaica — as part of a three-game Summer Series in Texas, the final competition before Andonovski names his 18-player roster for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The 23 players in training camp are vying for a limited number of roster spots, as is a crucial player still missing in action: midfielder Julie Ertz.

Ertz is a defensive midfielder whose role is known as the No. 6 position, the player responsible for linking the back line and the attack. Her physicality and experience make her a vital cog in the USWNT machine, but she has been out of commission since injuring her MCL in the Chicago Red Stars’ NWSL match on May 16 and is not on the Summer Series training camp roster.

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