USA-South Korea: Ertz puts Americans on path to victory

Julie Ertz earned a starting spot on the 2015 U.S. Women's World Cup championship team in the back, but her true calling is in midfield, where she has emerged this year as a huge force for the USA.

She went almost down to the artificial turf at the Mercedes Benz Superdome to reach for Megan Rapinoe's corner kick that she put past keeper Kang Gaae for the opening goal in the 24th minute, her fourth of the year, in a 3-1 win for the USA over South Korea in New Orleans.

The USA has been looking for a dominating player in the defensive midfielder role since the retirement of Shannon Boxx and Lauren Holiday. Ertz gives the USA an imposing presence but is also an excellent distributor.

Ertz, who is in her fourth NWSL season with the Chicago Red Stars after playing in midfield at Santa Clara, was also involved in the buildup on the second U.S. goal scored by Alex Morgan.

A Han Chaerin goal just before halftime gave South Korea life, but Rapinoe put the game away early in the second half when she scored from the penalty spot after being taken down in the box.

Pugh injury. Teenage star Mallory Pugh had to leave the game at the end of the first half with a hamstring injury.

Crowd count. The crowd of 9,371 was the smallest home crowd for the USA since February 2016.

Oct. 19 in New Orleans
USA 3 South Korea 1. Goals: Ertz 24, Morgan 40, Rapinoe pen. 52; Han 45+5.
USA -- Naeher; O'Hara, Dahlkemper, Sauerbrunn, Short (Huerta, 63); Ertz, Sullivan (Horan, 46), Mewis (Lloyd, 77); Pugh (Williams, 45 +1), Morgan (Press, 63), Rapinoe (Dunn, 63)
South Korea -- Kang, Shin (Ji Sunmi 45+3), Jang, Park Chorong (Lee Eunmi 83), Lee Mina (Lee Sodam 46), Cho, Choe (Jeon Gaeul 46), Kim Hyeyeong (Jang Chang 52), Han, Ji Soyun, Yoo (Son 63).
Att.: 9,371.
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