The Zack Steffen story: Manchester Metropolis, USMNT goalkeeper’s rise to stardom

The USA has persistently produced among the greatest goalkeepers on this planet, of which Zack Steffen is the most recent instance. He follows in a line of elite People who’ve featured within the English Premier League.

The 26-year-old Pennsylvania native is the undisputed beginning goalkeeper of the U.S. nationwide group (21 look and counting) and, on Could 29, he could possibly be one of many few People to hoist a UEFA Champions League trophy.

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What makes Steffen so good?

Steffen is a world-class shot-stopper. Pure and easy. He has the reflexes and positioning instincts that permit him to make saves different goalkeepers can solely dream about. It’s an enormous purpose why he has constructed a popularity as a penalty kick specialist (extra on that later).

Another excuse Manchester Metropolis and their legendary coach Pep Guardiola wished Steffen on the membership was his footwork: Goalkeepers are anticipated to take part in build-up play and kickstart the assault with their distribution. Steffen grew to become proficient at this aspect of the sport throughout his years with the Columbus Crew in MLS, the place his coach made it part of the group’s philosophy of play.

That very same coach, Gregg Berhalter, is now head of the U.S. nationwide group.

How’d he get to Manchester Metropolis?

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Steffen is barely 26, however his street to Manchester Metropolis was a protracted and winding one.

After starring with Pennsylvania youth soccer powerhouse FC Delco and sometimes for the Philadelphia Union’s academy group, Steffen joined the famend College of Maryland soccer program. He spent two soccer seasons as a Terrapin in 2013 and ’14, helped them to an NCAA title sport look in 2013, then turned professional after his sophomore season.

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He signed with SC Freiburg in Germany, that includes primarily for his or her reserve group from 2014 by way of 2016 earlier than returning stateside in Main League Soccer with Columbus. He received the Crew’s beginning spot in 2017 and by no means seemed again, turning into a league All-Star and 2018 Goalkeeper of the Yr. Manchester Metropolis took discover and bought him for a reported $10 million switch price in 2019.

Man Metropolis loaned Steffen to German membership Fortuna Dusseldorf for his first season, however then made him their backup goalkeeper throughout the 2020-2021 season, throughout which he grew to become the primary American man to win the English Premier League.

Though he backs up 27-year-old Brazilian starter Ederson, Steffen nonetheless began 12 matches in numerous cup competitions (one Premier League look), together with his group profitable all however one: a loss within the FA Cup semifinals. He solely allowed 6 targets in these 12 matches.

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Steffen: Penalty-kick specialist

Some goalkeepers simply have what it takes in relation to penalties. Steffen is one in all them.

In MLS, he stopped 5 of 15 penalties he confronted, and that’s not counting his heroics in two penalty kick shootouts throughout the MLS playoffs: He saved two penalties every towards Atlanta in 2017 and DC in 2018.

Steffen has but to face a penalty whereas at Manchester Metropolis. However given his monitor file, it would not be far-fetched for Guardiola to sooner or later convey Steffen right into a match simply to deal with a penalty-kick shootout.

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