Soccer

USWNT stars Heath and Ertz ‘on schedule’ to play in Olympics, says Andonovski

The U.S. will play five friendlies before the Olympics kick off on July 21 with a match against Sweden

U.S. women’s national team head coach Vlatko Andonovski is expecting key duo Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath to be fit in time for the Olympics.

Heath has not seen the field since January due to an ankle injury followed by a knee problem, while Ertz suffered a right knee MCL sprain last month in NWSL play with the Chicago Red Stars. 

Though Andonovski is optimistic about the pair’s progress, he did caution that Heath – who is in camp with the USWNT ahead of their three upcoming friendlies – is farther along than Ertz.

What was said?

“We’re excited where she’s at right now, but we’re going to have to be very careful with our approach and make sure that she’s fully recovered before she plays a game,” Andonovski said of Ertz on a conference call. 

“Both of them are on schedule to play by the Olympics,” the coach added of the pair. 

“I would say Tobin is a little bit ahead of Julie in her progression. She’s in camp here and training every day, and she’s medically pretty much ready.

“The only thing now for Tobin is physically we’ve got to prepare her and build her stamina.”

Heath’s long layoff ‘makes us think’ 

Unlike Ertz, Heath is in camp with the USWNT as they prepare for games against Portugal, Jamaica and Nigeria. 

However, Heath will not play in any of the three matches, after which Andonovski will name his 18-player Olympic squad.

The coach admitted that having to make a decision on Heath before seeing her in a live game “makes us think” but was still confident she’d go to Tokyo if healthy.

“The last time we were able to see Tobin, Tobin was probably the best player on the field,” Andonovski said. “That was the November camp in Holland. 

“From all the analysis that we did on both sides of the ball, I think that she was the highest ranked on the field so that plays in her favor very much. 

“And there are so many other things that play in her favor. The fact that we’re not able to see [her play], it’s not a problem or an issue for us but it makes us think a little bit.

“But if she’s 100 percent or we know she’s going to be close to 100% by the Olympics, her chances to make the team are pretty good.”

What’s next for the USWNT?

The U.S. will face Portugal on Thursday before they take on Jamaica on Sunday and Nigeria next Wednesday.

Following the Olympic roster reveal, the USWNT will face Mexico twice in send-off matches on July 1 and 5.

Andonovski’s side will kick off their Olympic campaign on July 21 with a match against Sweden.

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