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FourFourTwo USA's 50 Best American Women's Players of 2017: No. 3, Julie Ertz

Ertz might be the best do-everything USWNT player. Make sure you mark her on corner kicks. (Missed our No. 4 player? Click here to go back.)

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After the year Julie Ertz had in 2015, alongside Becky Sauerbrunn as the preeminent center-back tandem in the women’s game, who would have thought that Ertz would be spend 2017 finding a new home on the pitch?

It started in the NWSL in Chicago when Ertz was playing her way back into form in the early part of the season that her head coach, Rory Dames, experimented with her role. It didn’t take long for Ertz to rediscover some of the qualities that made her a collegiate standout at Santa Clara University as a center midfielder. Her ability to break up attacks, win challenges and then get into dangerous areas in the box is better than anyone in the women’s game right now. To be clear, it isn’t just get into the box to pose problems; she actually has mastered the most important skill in the game: scoring.

For Chicago, she had four goals this season, and for the U..S, her six goals in 2017 ranked second to only Alex Morgan  Some players just have innate sense of where to be and when. Ertz has that in the box, and she possesses the composure to steady herself before executing.

This year could have gone two ways for Ertz. Initially she wasn’t seeing much, if any, playing time for the U.S., a marked change since 2015. Many players would have lost confidence and let self-doubt derail the campaign, but Ertz continued to impress in the NWSL and eventually that form convinced Ellis to try her in a midfield role.

Her insertion into the match against Brazil in August completely altered the course of that game. She scored the winning goal and the U.S. never looked back the rest of the year.  There are many qualities necessary to make the U.S. women’s national team, but those who never lose faith in their own abilities and keep grinding away are the ones who remain.

As much as 2017 for Julie Ertz was about reinvention, it was equally about core confidence and both will serve her, Chicago and the U.S. as she heads into 2018. Next year will likely be about figuring out Julie Ertz’s best position and how that aligns with the needs of the team. It could very well play out that the needs of Chicago do not match up with the needs of the U.S., but fortunate for Ertz, she now knows she can be world class at both.  

Click here for the entire USWNT 50 Best countdown

Aly Wagner is a special contributor to FFT USA's USWNT 50 Best countdown