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Zack Steffen’s status for USMNT qualifying in doubt due to back stiffness


Zack Steffen did not dress for Manchester City’s match at Southampton last Saturday and now his status for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers remains in doubt due to an ailment that has cost him playing time in qualifying before.

Steffen has yet to travel to Columbus, Ohio due to back tightness and his status remains day-to-day, U.S. Soccer announced on Tuesday. Steffen is one of four goalkeepers called in by U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter, but he could be forced to stay in Manchester with the USMNT’s first match this window coming on Thursday.

Steffen has made six starts for Pep Guardiola’s side this season, registering one clean sheet in English Premier League play. The Pennsylvania native has totaled eight clean sheets for the English club in 18 career appearances.

On the international level, Steffen has started the past three of the USMNT’s eight qualifying matches in the octagonal round after missing the start of the Octagonal with back spasms and then Covid. Steffen helped the USMNT to victories over Costa Rica and Mexico in October and November respectively, while also starting in a 1-1 road draw with Jamaica.

Steffen earned seven caps for the USMNT in 2021, while New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner starred at the Concacaf Gold Cup success last summer before impressing in the first five matches of the Octagonal. Turner finished 2021 with nine national team shutouts, a new USMNT record.

New York City FC standout and MLS Cup MVP Sean Johnson, and Chicago Fire teenager Gabriel Slonina in the squad, are also in camp as goalkeepers alongside Turner.

The USMNT hosts El Salvador on Thursday at Field before traveling to Canada on Sunday, and hosting Honduras on Feb. 2 in Minnesota.


      • steffen is an odd blind spot for a coach obsessed with club form and the stereotype that players seeing regular time are more likely to be game fit and healthy if called upon. personally i believe in player by player nuance — some of them are very fit and professional even when benched while others get out of shape and rusty. but just saying the coach is inconsistent about such things. i do think that players working into shape pass through a phase where they push themselves harder than they have gotten their bodies fit to handle, and some bench and injury prone players can just live there in a cycle. try to get fit get hurt, go down, try to get fit again, etc.

  1. now is when you would want horvath or another veteran on the roster and not slonina. you cannot assume any roster players under these circumstances are just camp bodies. often enough “wondo” ends up playing and you get what you asked for.
    and since JR was lobbing “adorable” bricks at my head over saying use a private plane, the women used one for the world cup, pulisic used one during a recent quali round, and i’ve seen a photo of dempsey boarding one for a US game a few years back.

    • Well, Sean Johnson is the number 3 in this camp, and has been the last few windows so they have coverage in terms of another veteran keeper being there!

    • They use charters once the team is together. They don’t fly players singularly on private jets. If you’re a Russian Oligarch you can send a jet to get Pulisic to make sure he gets home on time but the US Soccer Federation does not fly them from Europe on private jets.


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