How American Zack Steffen Became the Manchester City No. 2

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There was a time when soccer in the United States was looked down upon by the elite leagues in Europe. A time when $73 million for a player from across the pond was unthinkable. My how times have changed.

From Christian Pulisic’s mega-money move from Dortmund to Chelsea to Gio Reyna turning heads in the Bundesliga, this week we’ll see us taking a look at the main American talents making a splash on the continent where the sport was born.

It’s the perfect time to do so as the United States Men’s National Team have a friendly against Wales on Nov. 12 (start time, 2:45pm ET) in Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.

They will then play Panama on Nov. 16 in Wiener Neustadt, Austria to complete the pair of games scheduled for this international break.

Due to COVID-19 outbreaks and public health precautions, the only previous action for the Stars & Stripes in 2020 was a Feb. 1 victory over Costa Rica by the score of 1-0.

After a successful high school career that saw him win the 2012 Generation Adidas Cup with Philidelphia Union the U17 side, Zack Steffen was incredibly sought after by colleges. Ranking as the number 1 keeper in the nation by TopDrawSoccer.com, he ended up at the Maryland Terrapins, becoming part of a class that ranked third in the nation.

Despite his last college game ending in an elimination from the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament, at the hands of UMBC, his college career was considered a major success, with Zack Steffen earning a whole host of honours.

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Upon leaving college he signed for SC Freiburg in Germany for the 15/16 season where he made 14 appearances for their Freiburg II squad. After training with the senior squad, it was reported that he would be the 3rd choice goalie for that season.

Rather than play 3rd fiddle in Germany, Steffen returned home, and signed with the Columbus Crew as a discovery signing. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however, as he spent his first season back stateside with the USL club Pittsburgh Riverhounds. This was shortlived as he returned to the Crew in 2017 as their starting‘keeper.

His star continued to rise in 2018 as he was named MLS goalkeeper of the year, made the MLS Best XI and was named in the roster for the MLS All-Sta game. After making 84 apps, with 26 clean sheets, for the Crew he had gotten the attention of one of the richest clubs on earth, Manchester City.

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City signed Zack Steffen for a reported $7 million fee and immediately sent him out on loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf where he made 17 appearances, before then returning to his parent club. After the contract of Claudio Bravo was let to expire, Zack Steffen saw himself promoted to backup goalie at the English giant club. 

After being included in many international training camps, it wasn’t until 2018 that Steffen made his international debut. Since then he has gone on to cement his spot as the true number one for the USMNT, making 17 appearances in his burgeoning career thus far.

Now plying his trade under one of the greatest managers of all time, Pep Guardiola, the future looks increasingly bright for the Pennsylvania native.

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USMNT Golden Generation Profile Series

Christian Pulisic      Gio Reyna      Sergino Dest      Josh Sargent     Weston McKennie    Tyler Adams

Stuart Kavanagh is an up and coming journalist from Melbourne, Australia. A student of sports media, his passion for the world game, in particular, shines through. Always keen to discuss footballing matters, you can follow him on Twitter @futbolislife8

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