USWNT star Julie Ertz. (Photo: Getty Images)
While the US National Team doesn't have much Pennsylvania representation, an adopted daughter of the city is carrying the city of Philadelphia with her to France.
One of manager Jill Ellis' x-factors at the World Cup, Julie Ertz, has developed quite the relationship with Philadelphia over the past few seasons.
Ertz, née Johnston, was born in Mesa, AZ and knew little about life on the east coast. She attended and starred at Santa Clara University before meeting her husband, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, at his school at a Stanford baseball game.
In the condensed version (while sparing you from all the mush), the college sweethearts who married in 2017 are now a power couple in sports.
"Obviously, having him in my corner and supporting me motivates me even more," Julie said of Zach.
Their love story shifted from California to Philadelphia once Zach was drafted by the Eagles where Julie's fandom has made her a darling of the city.
And the feeling is more than mutual as Julie's eyes lit up the moment I mentioned the city of Philadelphia when we were sitting in the middle of New York City during the US Women's National Team's media day last month.
"I love Philly so much," Ertz told Metro. "The fan base is just different there. And I mean that in the most amazing way."
"They are behind you no matter what. They'll let you know it. Just to have them care and take so much heart into their sports there, it's amazing to be a part there."
That extends to the support shown by the Eagles, who had Julie with them in Minneapolis when winning their first-ever Super Bowl title in February of 2018.
"We dropped in Philadelphia and it's been amazing," Julie said. "Just the support I've gotten from his team and hearing them cheer for me, the connection that I feel with Philly and with the community is huge and it's amazing."
Despite the busy schedules that come with being professional athletes, Zach will be in France to support Julie at her second World Cup after Eagles minicamp ends on Jun. 13.
"Training plans, meal plans, it's all been taken care of," Zach said. "That was a big question mark early on for me. I'm like, 'what am I going to do for three weeks?'"
While he'll miss the opener against Thailand on Tuesday, Zach will be in attendance for the final two group games against Chile and Sweden.
Like Zach, American fans everywhere will be keeping an eye on where Ellis will play Julie at the World Cup. While she's been a defender for most of her career, she has been a defending midfielder in the past two years.
"I'm a defender first... I love being a center back, don't get me wrong," Ertz said. "But I love the new challenges of being a midfielder, but it doesn't mean I still can't be a defensive-minded midfielder first... I love having my own creativity on the attack and being in there as well, but at the end of the day, I know my role is to break up plays and do whatever they ask of me."