“Philly is my home,” says Julie Ertz ahead of USWNT Victory Tour match tonight at the Linc

The #USWNT 2019 Victory Tour has taken over Philadelphia this week. At Lincoln Financial Field Thursday night, the back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cup champions will welcome Portugal to the city of Brotherly Love with kickoff set for 7:00 PM.

Julie Ertz is happy to be home as the USWNT takes on Portugal tonight in front of a record-breaking sell-out crowd at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: USSoccer.com

In what will be a homecoming for 2019 FIFA Player of the Year candidate Julie Ertz and Carli Lloyd and a nationwide celebration for all US soccer fans tonight in Philadelphia, the USWNT team will hope to impress. The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup champions will take on Portugal in front of a record-breaking crowd – currently reported to be a near sell-out.

As of last night, official ticket count estimations were reportedly over 46,000 and same-day sales leading up to kickoff tonight could push that number well over 50,000 and perhaps maybe the 60K mark.

And why not? The greatest soccer team in the world is in town. It’s a must-see event.

Ticket sales have continually increased throughout the past two weeks. The friendly against Portugal was officially announced via US Soccer back on July 24th and since, USWNT fans have been making plans to cheer on the group – some shelling out nearly $200 for lower-level seats. In fact, as of this morning on ticketmaster.com, some lower-level seats are priced (after-market) at over $300. These figures point to the fact that Philadelphia is 1) a giant sports-crazed city and 2) Lincoln Financial Field is the perfect venue for this event.

“The Victory Tour has been amazing. Obviously, being here in Philly has made it extra special,” said Ertz. “From being here for Zach [Ertz]’s first game seven years ago, I was always in the stands and was thinking about playing here at the Linc.”

For Ertz and teammate Carli Lloyd, the Philly area and the city itself has been a constant sense of comfort for the two big-time soccer stars. Lloyd, a Delran, NJ native, has been a Philly icon for some time now.

COACH / PLAYER INTERVIEWS

“It’s really special and I’m completely biased to be here at the Linc and to be setting an attendance record as well,” said Lloyd this week when asked about playing in Philly. “Little Delran has held a really special place in my heart.”

Lloyd further solidified her local legendary status by kicking a 55-yard field goal at a Philadelphia Eagles practice, sending NFL media pundits into a frenzy last week over the possibility of having a female kicker join the league.

Carli Lloyd, above, blasts a football 55-yards through the uprights sending Eagles players into chaos.

Both Lloyd and Ertz will likely feel a bit more excitement when the USWNT takes the field later tonight. After all, there’s nothing quite like playing in your hometown.

“Philly is my home now. Every time I come here – even from the second I land at the airport – I know where I’m coming, I know I’m home,” said Ertz. “The fans here have supported Zach’s career and mine collectively together, separate, off the field, on the field. So it feels likes family. I’m always excited when my team is here so I can take them to my spots in the city. It feels like home.”

The USWNT created some opportunities to give back to the local community as well in the days leading up to tonight’s match. On Tuesday, there was a public World Cup trophy viewing event at the Independence Visitor Center in the city. Just yesterday, the team opened up their final training session to the public and despite some rain, it was a success for the fans.

Thursday night’s match against Portugal will be the fourth time the USWNT has played at Lincoln Financial Field. When the Victory Tour’s second and third friendlies were announced, it came as no surprise that Philadelphia and the Linc would be a likely venue given the immensely positive responses the group receives whenever they play in Philly or just south of the city in Chester at Talen Energy Stadium – the Union’s fortress along the river.

Some may think the USWNT may take it easy in these upcoming friendlies considering the tour is labeled as a ‘victory lap’ of sorts, stopping in four different US cities. But for Lloyd and the rest of the group, it’s simply business as usual.

“It’s obviously one of those things where we take our games and our trainings very seriously but it is meant to be a celebration around the country so fans can come and enjoy,” said Lloyd. “We still want to win the game and do well. We’re all in the midst of our [NWSL Soccer] season which is wrapping up in October.”‘

The late stages of the NWSL season are taking a toll on the overall health of the group though. Injuries have plagued much of the 2019 World Cup starting squad leaving Head Coach Jill Ellis to search for depth options, calling up both defender Casey Short and forward Kristen Hamilton just three days ago.

The injury report is full of top-quality names. Alex Morgan and Rose Lavelle are ruled out due to lingering concussion symptoms. Megan Rapinoe is also sidelined for the match with an Achilles tendon issue. Mallory Pugh is currently battling a nagging hip flexor injury – an injury that held her out of her most recent match with the Washington Spirit. Kelly O’Hara was also recently listed as injured with an ankle problem, but there was no official word from Ellis on whether she’s in or out for tonight.

In addition to those injured, former Penn State standout and respected veteran Ali Krieger will not be available either due to a personal commitment which forced her to leave town.

But despite the injuries to big names, the USWNT will look to continue inspiring the masses.

“This team is just a wonderful representation of things that I think are important for women to advance in society,” said Ellis. “There’s a sense of power in terms of just being strong and committed in the way they play and the way they get after it. They’re inspirational. What they stand for and what they’re about off the field and on the field, I hope ignites not just young boys and girls in our country but all over the world. I think that was the fall out after the World Cup – this team went global. It’s a good message on staying true to your dreams and getting after it.”

Be sure to catch the greatest soccer team on Earth tonight at 7:00 PM on FoxSports1 from Lincoln Financial Field.

Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union, Steel FC, and other soccer content!

Follow our writers on Twitter:

Tim Lovenguth | Jeff Green | Matt McClain| Matt Nissenfeld

Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: USSoccer.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *