Ertz, Morgan expected to recover from injury, play against Spain

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Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz are both expected to play for the U.S. women’s team in its Round of 16 match against Spain despite suffering minor injuries previously in World Cup action.

Ertz was held out of the final group stage match against Sweden with a slight hip injury. Morgan started the game against Sweden but was withdrawn at halftime after taking a kick in the 35th minute from Linda Sembrant. She was struggling somewhat after that, and replaced by Carli Lloyd after the break.

“Alex is fine, JJ is fine,” USWNT head coach Jill Ellis said during her pre-match press conference at Stade Auguste-Delaune, referring to Julie Ertz by her longtime nickname that harkens back to her maiden name Johnston.

Morgan has five goals in the World Cup – all scored in the opener against Thailand – which leads the competition alongside now-eliminated Australia striker Sam Kerr. She was rested against Chile and then played the first half of the Sweden match.

The presence of the veteran duo is an enormous boost for the United States as they look to set up an anticipated quarterfinal match against France. The two own a combined 249 caps for the national team and have been a presence for years in the first-choice squad, both winning awards for their performances. Morgan was CONCACAF Player of the Year in each of 2016, 2017, and 2018 while Ertz was named U.S. Female Soccer Player of the Year in 2017.