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Julie Ertz Wins USA Soccer's 2019 Female Athlete of the Year over Megan Rapinoe

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2019

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 21: Soccer player Julie Ertz poses for a portrait during the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympics shoot on November 21, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

United States women's national team and Chicago Red Stars midfielder Julie Ertz has been voted USA Soccer's 2019 Female Athlete of the Year ahead of Megan Rapinoe.

Ertz was announced as the winner on Friday:

U.S. Soccer WNT @USWNT

@julieertz In 2019, @julieertz was everywhere... ⭐️ 📈 » https://t.co/avOYgl0Bep https://t.co/ehczyh936x

The 27-year-old also won the award in 2017.

Per ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle, Ertz received 42 percent of the votes to finish ahead of fellow nominees Rapinoe, Alyssa Naeher, Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle and Carli Lloyd.

Ertz said 2019 has been "a whirlwind of a year" and thanked her teammates, coaches and family:

"All of my teammates just had such an amazing year, and we all know it takes an entire team to win a World Cup or have a successful club season.

"We are all a sum of the people around us, so I want to especially thank [my husband] Zach and my family, all my coaches for the national team and the Red Stars, and all my teammates for their never-ending support.

"It's emotional to be recognized in this way, and it's a cherry on top of a beautiful 2019. It's incredible."

Jill Ellis, who managed the USWNT to their fourth FIFA Women's World Cup in the summer, said Ertz, who was also part of the World Cup-winning team in 2015, was a "critical part" of their success.

The midfielder started six of the Americans' seven games in France and scored in their 3-0 win over Chile in the group stage. Her biggest contributions came in protecting the United States' back line and pressing opponents when they had the ball.

When the USA were in possession, her eye for a pass and tireless running helped them get the ball forward. In the 474 minutes she spent on the pitch in the tournament, she covered 53 kilometers.

Her husband, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, congratulated her on the award:

Zach Ertz @ZERTZ_86

@julieertz PLAYER OF THE YEAR!!! EARNED NOT GIVEN!! https://t.co/TiUtdIm2yD

Despite being one of the USWNT's top performers throughout the year, it's something of a surprise for her to have beaten Rapinoe, who won the Golden Ball at the World Cup, was named FIFA's The Best Women's Player and won the women's Ballon d'Or.

The Athletic's Kieran Theivam and the Guardian's Suzy Wrack felt Ertz was under-represented at the latter, though:

Suzy Wrack @SuzyWrack

What KT said. I’d have Ertz at least top five, if not higher. https://t.co/hgELhKQYQB

Ertz is the 10th player to win this award on more than one occasion, though she's still some way behind record-holder Abby Wambach, who picked it up six times.

However, per Carlisle, she is the first recipient of the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year—which she won in 2012—to win the senior award.