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Despite her area of play on the pitch, Julie Ertz makes an impact in every single game she plays in. With the transition from being one of the top central defenders in the world to be just as good, if not better, in the defensive midfield role. In this case, a change never looked so good.

The Red Stars first game of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season was one to be forgotten, falling 1-0 to Houston for the second straight year in the season opener. However, the following week, one crucial change put Chicago back on track for a push to their third NWSL playoffs.

Red Stars head coach Rory Dames moved around a loaded roster to different positions, ultimately moving Ertz to a defensive midfield role, while giving Katie Naughton a starting role as a central defender. The move brought alive the scoring nature in Ertz, as she scored the only goal in a 1-0 win in her first game in the new position.

Two weeks later, she scored again, already tying her single-season record from her rookie year in 2014 with two goals. From 2016 to 2017, her stats skyrocketed, showcasing her ability to control the ball rather, while still defending the top athletes in the world.

The season prior, Ertz had one shot in the 13 games she appeared in. The year before that in 2015, Ertz struck one shot on goal in four attempts. In 2017, seven of her 19 shots were on frame, tallying four goals and three assists, all single-season highs for the newfound midfielder. While earning Goal of the Week in Week 19, she was also given a spot on NWSL’s Second XI.

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The position change didn’t just happen with her club, but the change was important for her country as well.

On August 3 against Japan, U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis made the switch for Ertz to move up in the midfield. The following month, Ertz scored a brace in a 3-1 win over New Zealand with the move.

During the two friendlies in October, Ertz scored one goal in each, while also scoring the opening goal in a 3-1 victory against border rivals Canada. Ertz finished the year with six goals in 12 appearances. Miraculously, Ertz has scored all 14 career goals off set pieces, proving to be a major threat.

In December, Ertz was given the honor of being nominated for U.S. Soccer’s Female Player of the Year. She was previously awarded the Young Female Player of the Year in 2012.

As Ertz’ switch looks to be a permanent fixture to both Chicago and the WNT, the midfielder will look to continue her success for both club and country in 2018.

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