Former Maryland men’s soccer goalkeeper Zack Steffen is reportedly going to join the champions of England.
Paul Tenorio of The Athletic tweeted Monday night that the former Terp will be leaving Major League Soccer and the Columbus Crew to head to England and play for the defending Premier League champions, Manchester City.
Breaking for @TheAthleticSCCR: Columbus Crew and MLS finalizing a transfer to send Zack Steffen to Manchester City for between $7 and $10 million, per multiple sources. https://t.co/vZRxHYS8ko pic.twitter.com/HATSYFVxG5
— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) November 26, 2018
Steffen had previously been in Europe as a member of the German club SC Freiburg, but he never appeared in a game for the club’s first team. His only playing time came in the fourth tier of German soccer for Freiburg’s reserve team, SC Freiburg II.
Steffen enjoyed much more success playing in the United States with the Columbus Crew, winning the 2018 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in a season where he allowed 1.28 goals per game and kept ten clean sheets in 29 games.
His strong play continued into this season’s playoffs, where he made a save on the legendary Wayne Rooney to help see the Crew past D.C. United in a penalty shootout.
— Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) November 2, 2018
Steffen also led Columbus to a shootout victory in last season’s playoffs against Atlanta United. He made eight saves in regulation and extra time before denying a pair of penalty of kicks to send Columbus to the next round.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 27, 2017
Steffen’s fantastic play for Columbus has also given him opportunities on the United States national team. His biggest performance came against France in a pre-World Cup friendly against the eventual world champions. He held France to just one goal and ended his game with a pair of outstanding saves to preserve a draw.
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@ussoccer_mnt) June 9, 2018
While Steffen has shown his talent for both club and country, it’ll be unlikely he’ll start for Manchester City barring an injury to their starting goalkeeper, Ederson. A member of the Brazilian national team, Ederson started 36 of City’s 38 Premier League matches last season. The club coasted to a Premier League title, with the Brazilian keeping 17 clean sheets and allowing under a goal per game.
There won’t be much of a chance for Steffen to get playing time in the Premier League as long as Ederson stays healthy and avoid any suspensions. However, this doesn’t mean Steffen won’t get any chances to play for City.
All English teams compete in the FA Cup and the League Cup, a pair of cup competitions that are generally regarded as less important than the Premier League. Many teams use these tournaments to give their backup goalkeeper a chance to play, which would provide Steffen his main source of playing time.
City has won the League Cup in 2014, 2016 and 2018, so it would mean Steffen could get the opportunity to start a cup final at Wembley Stadium during his time in Manchester.
It is also possible that City opts to send Steffen out on loan to give him a chance of greater playing time somewhere else in Europe instead of having him spend the majority of his first season in England on the bench.
Regardless, it’s a sign of Steffen’s generational talent that he’s coveted by a club like Manchester City and a manager like Pep Guardiola. We’ll have to see how much playing time he gets in England, but no matter what, he’s come an awfully long way from spending his Friday nights at Ludwig Field.