The last most of us saw of Zack Steffen, he was breaking saucy Colombian hearts.
After a widely lauded freshman campaign at Maryland, Steffen eschewed MLS and penned a deal with Freiburg in the German Bundesliga in December 2014. A few months later, Freiburg dropped to the second tier, and Steffen was shrouded in its reserves anyway. If you thought you’d have a shot to actually watch Steffen play club ball, well, good luck.
Steffen resurfaced at the U20 World Cup in the summer of 2015, and he was easily the U.S.’s best player. He captained the back line and reached a career zenith when he saved a penalty against Colombia in the first knockout round that ultimately saved the match. The U.S. won. Statues of Steffen were spontaneously erected across the nation.
Steffen then disappeared back into Germany, and we’ve heard little from him since then. But that just changed.
This week, German sports publication Kicker reported Freiburg, which popped right back up to the Bundesliga after a year away, plans to take Steffen with them. The club will use the 21-year-old as their third keeper this season.
All hail Google translate!
Behind main goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow and representatives Patric Klandt completes future Zackary Steffen the Bundesliga goalkeeper trio Breisgauer . The 21 – year-old American came in January 2015 from the Maryland Terrapins to Sport Club and completed since 14 missions with the U23 in the Regionalliga West . He replaces the team of Christian Streich Konstantin Fuhry from which was formed in the Freiburg Soccer School from 2006 to 2012 , after a flying visit to VfB Stuttgart and Hannover 96 in the summer of 2014 came to the sports club again and the future after 38 Regional appearances in two seasons for SV Elversberg will play in the same league.
Every time Steffen returns from club duty for YNT stints, he seems to be better, so clearly he’s growing in Germany. The bigger question is where he stands in relation to Ethan Horvath. During the U23 qualifying cycle, Horvath won the starting gig for the Olympic team and then was called in as the third keeper for the Copa America. Both are 21, and both are comparable talents. But Horvath is starting first team games in Europe with Molde while Steffen fights through U23 minutes. If Steffen is clawing closer to Bundesliga matches, well, the tides are about to shift.
To be sure, 21 is still young to be talking about where a keeper lands as a pro, but Horvath/Steffen battle figures to rage for years. Steffen just tossed the ball back into Horvath’s court.