(CNN)Aged 26, Julie Ertz already knows what it is like to win a World Cup. The defensive midfielder, the second-youngest member of the US squad in 2015, can talk about the joy of winning the biggest prize in women’s soccer, of how onerous a month-long tournament can be and how becoming a world champion “makes you hungry for more.”
This summer she will aim to help her country to a successful defense of the title won four years ago though, she admits, being considered one of the veterans in Jill Ellis’ squad, now that stalwarts like Abby Wambach, Hope Solo
and Christie Pearce have since departed, is “weird.”
After a period of adjustment, the low point coming in a quarterfinal defeat by Sweden at the Rio Olympics, US preparations have fallen into place over the last 12 months. The team went through 2018 unbeaten — 17 wins and two draws cementing its position at the top of the world rankings and, with a 100 days to go to the start of France 2019, Ellis’ squad are favorites for what would be a fourth title for the US.