Zack Steffen was expected to learn from Brazilian star Ederson and legendary manager Pep Guardiola, but the American goalkeeper has since taken the reigns of late for Manchester City.
Steffen is set to make his third appearance in a week for the Citizens, who host EFL Championship side Birmingham City in FA Cup play on Sunday. The U.S. Men’s National Team No. 1 has filled in for Ederson, who had to isolate due to several positive COVID-19 cases in the squad.
Despite not playing most of the season, Steffen hasn’t missed a beat in the Man City starting lineup on back-to-back starts, in his first pair of back-to-back starts in the sky blue and white. Guardiola has watched Steffen step up in Ederson’s absence and praised his recent performances at the club.
“He’s settled perfectly to the dynamic of the group,” Guardiola said in a press conference Friday. “He’s a guy who listens in training. “He’s been training with maybe the best goalkeeper coach with Xabi [Mancisidor] and he has the opportunity to improve a lot.”
Steffen had been reduced to cup competitions only in the early stages of the season, but since has won both his UEFA Champions League and Premier League debuts over the past two months. The 24-year-old followed that up with a 2-0 shutout win over rivals Manchester United in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semifinal at Old Trafford.
While the American didn’t have much to do in the match, he did deny in-form playmaker Bruno Fernandes early in the first-half before the Citizens scored twice after halftime to advance to April’s rescheduled final. His distribution out of the back has also improved, in addition to his long ball passes upfield.
“He made an incredible save in the first half from the shot from Bruno Fernandes but they were actions with the ball that he’s done really well,” Guardiola said.
Wednesday’s win now moves Steffen to 6-0-0 in all competitions and he should have many more opportunities down the road to play with Man City remaining in four competitions.