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Zack Steffen makes case for USMNT starter with standout performance against France


There has been a debate surrounding the U.S. Men’s National Team’s goalkeeper position for quite some time. With Tim Howard and Brad Guzan approaching the later stages of their careers, the U.S. has been searching for their next star goalkeeper with a number of candidates emerging since the end of the World Cup qualifying campaign.

After Saturday’s match, though, there’s little doubt: Zack Steffen is ready for the job.

Steffen only continued his rise on Saturday in the USMNT’s 1-1 draw with France. The Columbus Crew goalkeeper turned in his best performance in a USMNT jersey, making seven saves to hold down a France attack that featured stars like Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Paul Pogba.

Thanks to Steffen and a standout defensive effort from the five-man defensive unit, the U.S. was able to hold off a France team that enters the World Cup among the favorites to play deep into the tournament.

“It was a pretty surreal game,” Steffen said. “The guys grinded in front of me and when it came down to it I had to step up and do my part. I felt alright in warm-up. I didn’t have my best warm-up and obviously there was nerves in the first half.  I’m just proud of the guys and what they put out in front of me and I’m proud we were able to keep our mentality strong through the end of the game.

“They are a world class team and they might go and win the World Cup and playing against them was a huge honor and a privilege. It was awesome.”

Steffen may have been nervous, but he certainly didn’t show it throughout Saturday’s match. The 23-year-old goalkeeper started off with a fingertip save on a Pogba shot and only got better from there.

His best moment came late with France pressing for what would have been a winner. With just seconds left in the match, Steffen made a diving save before springing back to his feet and parrying away the ensuing rebound, preserving the draw and a major momentum boost for the USMNT.

“The more saves you make and the longer the game goes on, your confidence gets boosted,” Steffen said. “You’re able to stay in the game and help your teammates out when you need to.

“Once you get a few touches on  the ball, your nerves settle, you get into the game and you’re fine.”

Over the next few months, positional battles will once again open up as the team transitions from Dave Sarachan to whomever is chosen as the next USMNT manager. The goalkeeper position will be no different. There are a number of options, even if Steffen appears to be leading the pack.

There are players like Ethan Horvath and Bill Hamid, even if both have looked shaky in their more recent USMNT efforts. There are MLS products like Alex Bono and Jesse Gonzalez as well as Club Leon’s William Yarbrough, who has never quite been given a USMNT chance. Guzan may also figure into the mix as a veteran presence for the next cycle.

But, at least for now, Steffen looks to be the most qualified for the job going forward.

“There were a couple moments tonight that were spectacular,” Sarachan said of Steffen. “The free kick save toward the end, his save that has to be pushed out wide. It thought he was outstanding. I think he offers a good calm presence. Goalies are expected to make saves when you have to and he did that tonight.

“I don’t think it would be fair to start rating all of the goalies but Zack certainly has made a great case for himself.”

Steffen will now look to continue to make his case over the coming months as the Crew become his main focus. The USMNT is out of action until September, and plenty is expected to chance before the group convenes next.

There’s little doubt, though, that Steffen is here to stay and, with performances like Saturday’s, the U.S. appears to have found its go-to goalkeeper as the road to 2022 truly begins.

“It’s a big result and a good performance by us,” Steffen said. “We have some time off from the national team. We’ll go back to our clubs or go on vacation and go from there. When we come together next, we’ll have confidence in knowing that we can play.”


  1. We still have some time to work this out, but for me Steffen is the #1 right now. I’ve wanted Hamid to step up and take the reigns for a while now, and I still think he might, but he’s a step off in his confidence right now.

  2. Don;’t know who you would put ahead of him since he looks good. We probably wouldn’t have lost to Ireland if he had been in the nets. I don’t understand why Yarbrough doesn’t get more opportunities, though. He has been the regular keeper at Leon for a while now and seems to do well based on their scores. He’s 29 and GK’s can usually play at a high level longer so i would like to see him play more since he could at least be a decent backup for the next 4 years. I think Hamid played himself off the team and Horvath lost his starting job, so we need another reliable keeper playing regularly in a good league. Yarbrough or maybe Gonzalez might be the best bets for that role.

    • Leon hasn’t been near the bottom in GA the last couple years and was last this past season. That can’t all be blamed on Yarborough, but it is somewhat telling. Gonzalez has been good this month after returning to the line up was outstanding against Giovinco in his first start.

    • Depending who gets the HC job this whole evaluation phase will probably be repeated. I am sure the new coach will watch recent tape but also want to run his own auditions over. Yarbrough would probably be marginal to be in the evaluation pool.

    • Hamid has played one game this season, that was Pecking Order Madness. I have a feeling the new coach will be neither some pro-Europe-obsessive like JK nor someone who feels forced to maintain the JK/Arena pecking order. It will likely matter whether you are sitting someplace and on that basis I expect Hamid and Horvath downgraded by a coach who doesn’t care how the pipeline was SUPPOSED to work. Unless it’s Ramos.

      • Again, it’s absurd that people are ready to get rid of players with ability who are clearly out of form because of a lack of consistent club time and showed that through ONE match! There is a process to be adhered to, and you risk alienating players like some coaches have before because of favorites and the like, which is why we are in the position to date! These keepers need an opportunity to show what they have, and considering the real bullets don’t fly for another year, there is time to see everyone for a few games a piece, no harm in that!

    • you have one uneven game and your off the team now?? Steffen had a stinker versus Paraguay, and was lucky to not have conceded a goal in the match! So should he be off the team too? Let’s gauge players when they are in form, which Hamid is clearly not after his transfer, but ir Steffen is handed the keys for right now i’d be happy with that! I just think it’s irresponsible to want to kick a good player out of the rotation because of one match!

  3. He seems to have everything any manager would want in a goalie, calm, good with his feet and comes up with the big saves when needed. I would assume he is the number 1 going forward but new manager might have his own in mind.

    • Americans need to get the priorities right. He made some insane saves. The rest is gravy. Just like I want defenders who can defend and we’ll worry about the rest once they prove that much.

    • I guess i’m partially blind, because i just didn’t see the type of game from Streffen that everyone else is raving about! I’m in no way saying he had a bad game, it was actually a pretty good one, but a lot of fans are raving about stops that were shot right at him. The one stop i was impressed with was the one at the very end where he punched away Dembele’s rebound attempt. The shot from Fekir was right at him to punch away, nothing extraordinary there! Early in the game he kicked the ball out of bounds and gave it right back to France in our own half, and he was out of position and should have done better with the 2 shots that hit the post from Pogba and Griezmann. All in all, he had a good day and i wouldn’t be disappointed if he was named number 1 for right now, but i do think the position is still unsettled atm. I favor Hamid(I’m a DC guy lol), but he’s clearly out of form after the move to Denmark, so it should be a good battle going forward between those 2


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