USWNT vs. South Africa score: USA bid farewell to Julie Ertz as Lynn Williams, Trinity Rodman find the net

The U.S. women's national team returned to winning ways on Thursday, securing a 3-0 win over South Africa at Cincinnati's TQL Stadium in their first match since the Women's World Cup while also saying goodbye to Julie Ertz. 

The match started tepidly and saw both teams have their chances, but the USWNT scored three times in a 10-minute span before halftime to take a commanding lead. The first came in the 32nd minute off a corner when a redirected ball found Lynn Williams, who scored smoothly from close distance despite South Africa's attempt to clear the ball off the goal line.

Two minutes later, the hosts doubled the lead. The USWNT combined beautifully in midfield before sending the ball towards goal. Alex Morgan had the ball on the left side of goal but instead of taking the shot herself, she smartly sent the ball toward Trinity Rodman, who made a run and was right in front of goal. From there, it was a simple finish for the young forward.

Williams completed her brace in the 41st minute, again off a corner. Andi Sullivan's corner found Lindsey Horan, who flicked the ball towards Williams. The goalscorer got an awkward touch on the ball but was still able to find the back of the net and send her team into the halftime break with a 3-0 lead.

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The victory also served as a farewell for Ertz, who started and captained the team until she was subbed off in the 35th minute. Ertz played for the national team for 10 years and at three World Cups and was an important member of the squads that won the sport's biggest prize in 2015 and 2019. She was active during her brief final appearance and had a few looks on goal but was unable to score.

The USWNT return to action on Sunday, when they will play South Africa again, this time in Chicago. That match will serve as a sendoff for Megan Rapinoe, who will retire following the conclusion of the NWSL season.

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USA 3-0 RSA

41' - The goals just keep on coming for the USWNT. Off another corner, Horan flicks the ball towards goal and though Williams gets an awkward touch on it, she is still able to put the ball in the back of the net for her second of the game.

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FT: USA 3-0 RSA

The USWNT cruises to victory in their first game back from the World Cup thanks to a brace from Williams and another from Rodman. Ertz officially caps off her storied career with one last win.

 
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Thompson with a look at goal

85' - Thompson made a nice run down the right flank and took a shot at goal, but it was eventually blocked. It was one of the better chances for the USWNT in the second half, though South Africa has done a decent job of keeping the scoreline as is.

 
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More changes for the USWNT

77' - Krueger and Thompson are on Fox and Rodman, respectively. The hosts have completely been in cruise control throughout the second half and have taken six shots in the process, but have posed limited threat to South Africa's defense otherwise.

 
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A few more subs for the USWNT

63' - Kilgore puts Sanchez and Hatch on for Horan and Morgan, respectively.

 
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Active start for the USWNT

59' - It has been all USWNT, all the time to start the second half. The team has notched a few shots though they haven't threatened the South Africa defense too much. Vignola also seems bright early on in her debut, and has been active on the wing and helpful in regaining possession.

 
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Second half begins

The USWNT makes one sub at halftime with Viignola coming on for Dunn. This marks Vignola's debut for the national team, and it could not come in a better place - she's a Cincinnati native.

 
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HT: USA 3-0 RSA

The match may have started tepidly, but what once felt like an even match with chances for both sides eventually gave way for a burst of USWNT goals at the end of the half.

 
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Ertz comes off

35' - After a two goal flurry, Ertz's storied career officially comes to a close. She comes off for Sullivan, and ends her international career with 123 caps and 20 goals. She was not able to add another to that goal tally, despite her teammates' best efforts.

 
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USA 2-0 RSA

34' - And just like that, it's 2-0 to the USWNT! In a beautiful team sequence, the ball eventually finds Morgan on the left side of the box. Instead of taking it herself, she sends it along to Rodman, who is right in front of goal and scores the second of the game.

 
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USA 1-0 RSA

32' - The USWNT strike first! The hosts earn a corner and the ball once again floats towards Ertz's head, but a South Africa defender heads it away, only for the ball to find Williams. She reacts quickly in front of the gaol llne and the ball crosses the line despite South Africa's attempt to clear it off the line.

 
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Ertz header saved

21' - If the first 20 minutes are anything to go by, it's clear the USWNT want to send Ertz off with one last goal. The ball heads in her direction on another corner, but the shot eventually stopped by Swart after two South Africa defenders marked her. Ertz also continues to make forward runs, and at times is the player furthest up the pitch for the USWNT, a rare sight for someone as defensively minded as Ertz.

 
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South Africa show glimpses

16' - South Africa nearly had a dangerous moment after Kgatlana gets through on goal and is able to outmaneuver Naeher, but the shot does not come off.

 
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Early bursts for the USWNT

15' - It's been a mild start to this one, but the hosts have had a couple of looks at goal so far, most recently when Ertz was waiting at the near post. The USWNT have had a lot of success of the wings so far and have earned a few corners as South Africa's defense switches on, which could be part of the game plan. Ertz has 20 goals in her USWNT, many of them headers off set pieces.

 
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First half underway

The USWNT does the honors with the first kick, and Ertz's farewell has officially begun.

 
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Teams on the field

U.S. Soccer throws Ertz a pre-match celebration, which includes a framed jersey commemorating her 123 caps for the USWNT. Ertz's loved ones join her on the pitch for a photo op, all visibly emotional.

 
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USWNT coaching search

After serving as one of Andonovski's assistants, Kilgore is taking charge on an interim basis until U.S. Soccer names a new head coach for the USWNT. The federation's sporting director Matt Crocker said Kilgore will be at the helm this month and for October's friendlies against Colombia and hopes to have Andonovski's successor in by December.

That means the new coach will have just seven months to prepare for next summer's Olympic Games in Paris, where the USWNT will be expected to rebound from the World Cup round of 16 exit.

 
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Ertz on retirement

Ertz hinted that she would hang up her boots right after the USWNT's World Cup exit, and confirmed the news a few weeks later. She cited her shifting priorities as the reason she's retiring -- she welcomed her son Madden last year, and lives outside of an NWSL market in Arizona, where she's from and where her husband Zach Ertz plays for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals. It's not because she lacks the ability to compete, she noted on Wednesday.

"There's always the next opportunity, and your whole career as an athlete, you're like, 'I don't want to regret anything,'" she said, per ESPN. "And I think when I get to a point to be able to choose myself, when I could step away ... I do feel I could step away and be like, 'It's not because Momma can't play. Momma can play. She has just adapted [her] priorities.' And I think that just comes with age and just I feel like I've been so blessed to have the career that I've had."

 
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Kgatlana starts for South Africa

The Racing Louisville star is in the lineup for the visitors.

South Africa starting lineup: Swart, Ramalepe, Makhubela, Gamede, Dhlamini, Cesane, Motlhalo, Biyana, Salgado, Seoposenwe, Kgatlana

 
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Ertz captains team in her farewell

The player is joined by a handful of familiar faces, all of whom played for the USWNT at this year's World Cup, in her final game.

USWNT starting lineup: Naeher, Fox, Girma, Cook, Dunn, Ertz, Sonnett, Horan, Rodman, Morgan, Williams

Substitues: Sanchez, Vignola, Hatch, Thompson, Davidson, Andi Sullivan, Casey Murphy, Casey Krueger, Kingsbury, DeMelo, Jaedyn Shaw, Sam Coffey

 
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How to watch and odds

  • Date: Thursday, Sept. 21 |Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: TQL Stadium -- Cincinnati, Ohio
  • TV: TNT | Live stream: fuboTV (try for free)
  • Odds: USWNT -1600; Draw +675; South Africa +2700
 
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Hello and welcome!

With Paris just 10 short months away, the USWNT are back in action with a handful of old and new faces. While Ertz and a handful of other veterans are expected to play today, many will be curious to see if some newcomers earn some game time as Twila Kilgore takes charge of her first game as the interim head coach.

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