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In 2006, Ertz attended the United States U14 National Identification Camp. In 2009, she was called into a U18 national team training camp from May 30 to June 7 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
Ertz attended Santa Clara University, where she majored in communications and played as a midfielder for the Broncos women's soccer team. In 2010, as a college freshman, she played in 20 games, starting 16 and accumulating 1,519 minutes of playing time. At the end of the season, she led the team in assists with five and recorded the third-most shots on the team with 31. She was named WCC Freshman of the Year and received NSCAA All-West Region Second-Team, Soccer America All-Freshman First-Team, All-WCC Second-Team, and WCC All-Freshman team honors.
As a sophomore in 2011, Ertz started all 21 games with nine goals and four assists for the Broncos. She scored four game-winning goals in matches away to Cal Poly, and at home to WSU, Cal and Nevada. She was a WCC Hermann Trophy semi-finalist and was named to the NSCAA All-American First-Team as well as the All-WCC First-Team.
In 2012, which was her junior year, Ertz started 14 of the 15 games she played and led the Broncos with eight goals and was second on the team with five assists. She scored three game-winning goals and recorded an assist in the first round of the NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament in a match against Long Beach State. She was subsequently named to the All-WCC First Team and NCAA Division I Women All-West Region First Team. She was a MAC Hermann Trophy semi-finalist and was named U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year.
In 2012, Ertz competed in international under-20 youth soccer and scored a goal against Switzerland at the La Manga Tournament in Spain. Heading into the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, she had 13 caps and four goals for the U20 team. Ertz captained the United States team to the Japan 2012 U20 FIFA Women's World Cup; winning the 2012 CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championship along the way. In the main tournament, one of the goals she scored was in the 4–0 semi-final victory over Mexico that advanced the United States to the World Cup finals. In Japan, Ertz captained her team to win the FIFA under-20 world cup, and won the Bronze Ball award herself.
In 2013, Ertz played in 22 games and led the team with eight assists and four game-winning goals. She made a total of 12 goals in the season and recorded an assist in the first round of the NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament in a match against University of California at Berkeley. At the end of the season, she was named to the NSCAA All-American First Team, NSCAA All-West Region First Team, All-WCC First Team and College Sports Madness All-WCC First Team. She was also named WCC Player of the Year and College Sports Madness WCC Player of the Year. Overall, Ertz has made 79 appearances and scored 31 goals with the Broncos.
In 2013, Ertz played for the U23 team in the Four Nations Tournament in La Manga, Spain. The team won the tournament, beating England in the final on March 7.
Ertz was first called up to the national team in January 2013, when she was on the 29-player roster for a training camp leading up to two matches against Scotland in early February. Ertz made her first appearance for the national team in their first match of the year on February 9, 2013 against Scotland. She came in for Becky Sauerbrunn in the 83rd minute to help the United States win the match 4–1.
On January 17, 2014, Ertz was selected third overall in the first round of the 2014 NWSL College Draft by the Chicago Red Stars. She subsequently signed with the team for the 2014 season. She made her first appearance for the team on April 19 in a match against the Western New York Flash. She scored the only goal of the match in the 59th minute. In the 2014 season, Ertz started in 21 matches and scored two goals. The Red Stars finished fifth in the regular season with a 9–7–8 record and did not advance to the playoffs. Ertz was named NWSL Rookie of the Year following the 2014 season.
In 2015, Ertz missed almost half of the NWSL season due to commitments with the United States women's national team at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. She returned to the Red Stars on July 22 during a match against the Boston Breakers, which ended in 2–1 victory for the Red Stars. She made 11 appearances for the Red Stars during the 2015 season, playing 990 minutes. The Red Stars finished second in the regular season with an 8–3–9 record and advanced to the playoffs. The Red Stars faced FC Kansas City in the semi-finals of the playoffs on September 13. Ertz started in the match, which ended in a 0–3 defeat for the Red Stars and they were eliminated from the playoffs. Following the 2015 season, Ertz was named to the NWSL Best XI.
Ertz is a Christian. In February 2016, she became engaged to Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz at Klein Field, the Stanford University baseball stadium where they first met. They were married on March 26, 2017, on the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Zach and Julie Ertz were featured in ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue 2017.
In the 2017 season, Ertz debuted in a new role in attacking midfield, scoring the winning goal in a 1–0 victory over FC Kansas City in week 2. Ertz was named to the NWSL Second XI for the season after leading Chicago to the championship semi-final, where they lost out for the third consecutive season.
Beginning in 2017, Ertz was shifted from center back to a defensive center midfield position as coach Jill Ellis experimented with new formations. She found success in the role and in 2017 she was named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year.
Ertz missed the beginning of the 2018 NWSL season as she was recovering from a knee injury suffered at the 2018 SheBelieves Cup, she made her first appearance of the season on April 28 in a 1–1 draw against the Washington Spirit. Ertz played in 15 games for the Red Stars in 2018 as they qualified for the playoffs for the fourth straight season. The semi-final was a rematch with the North Carolina Courage, Chicago lost 2–0 which was their fourth consecutive semi-final loss. Ertz was named the 2018 NWSL Second XI.
In May 2019, she was named to the final 23-player roster for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France, marking her second World Cup appearance. She scored in the 3–0 win over Chile.Ertz also won US Soccer's Female Player of the Year award. She was nominated alongside Rose Lavelle, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Alyssa Naeher and Megan Rapinoe.
At the first SheBelieves Cup competition on March 5, 2020, Ertz played her 100th match for the United States in a 2–0 win against England.