Zack Steffen: How he rose to the top in MLS

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 10: Zack Steffen
COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 10: Zack Steffen /

Zack Steffen grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania playing local, club soccer. Now, he’s on the radar of teams overseas and leading the Columbus Crew SC. He’s how he rose to the top of MLS.

Zack Steffen has already cemented himself as a bright talent in Major League Soccer.

A starting goalkeeper for the Columbus Crew at just age 23, Steffen made his first MLS All-Star game roster this year. After watching Brad Guzan of Atlanta United FC for a half, it was Steffen’s turn to step in the spotlight against Juventus.

Related Story. MLS All-Star Game: Carlos Bocanegra interview. light

He endured shots from Luca Clemenza, Daniele Rugani and João Cancelo during regular-time — not letting a single shot past him. However, penalty kicks were different, with five Juventus players scoring.

Steffen admitted after the match to Goal that it was “ironic” being back in a penalty shootout in Atlanta — the same place he sent Columbus further into the MLS Cup playoffs last season:

More from MLS Multiplex

"“It was crazy, but it was cool to do it against Juventus players this time, with Atlanta fans backing me up. It was a lot of fun and the guys were great. The game was the cherry on top.”"

From Germany back to America

However, despite the loss by the MLS players, it was a solid showing from Steffen. That’s not anything new to Columbus Crew SC fans. Steffen has always been the club’s most consistent player since suiting up and taking his spot between the posts.

Born and raised in Coatesville, Pa., Steffen grew up in the FC Delco system. However, after two years at the University of Maryland, he packed his bags and went to Germany, signing with SC Freiburg in 2014.

Steffen made 14 appearances for SC Freiburg II, not being able to break into the first team. However, after learning from the goalkeepers ahead of him including Roman Bürki, he moved back to the United States.

That’s when the Columbus Crew SC obtained him.

After a short game-by-game stint with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC of the United Soccer League — which included nine starts — Steffen became the leading man in goal for Columbus. In two seasons, he has made 52 appearances, recording 4,680 minutes.

Steffen has made 139 career saves in MLS and owns 16 shutouts.

Right now, Columbus is sitting in playoff position, claiming fourth place in the Eastern Conference. It’s a pretty spot in the Eastern Conference standings, as the Crew have 36 points.

Fifth-place Montreal Impact have 28 points, leaving a large gap between the Impact and Crew.

Will Steffen stay in Columbus?

Despite his close bonds to the city of Columbus — especially with the potential move of club to Austin, Texas — Steffen has garnered interest from overseas.

ATLANTA, GA OCTOBER 26: Columbus goalkeeper Zack Steffen blocks the penalty kick of Atlanta’s Julia Gressel (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA OCTOBER 26: Columbus goalkeeper Zack Steffen blocks the penalty kick of Atlanta’s Julia Gressel (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The MLS first broke news that Bristol City FC was interested in Steffen last month. The club currently features in the Championship, which is the second tier of soccer in England.

However, Steffen spoke out during the All-Star game about the deal — which was reported to be worth $3.9 million from ESPN — which fell flat:

"“There were a lot of moving parts, but at the end of the day the deal just didn’t go through. I’m happy in Columbus and my focus is on Columbus right now. My goal is to go back to Europe, whenever that is. I don’t have that much of a say; it’s when teams want to come in and talk. But my goal is to go back over there at some point.”"

During the time of the potential deal bargaining, Gregg Berhalter, Columbus Crew sporting director and head coach, told ESPN that the offer wasn’t the ‘right opportunity for the club at this moment.’

Next. MLS: Interviews with Bradley Wright-Phillips and Greg Garza. dark

What do you think?

Will Zack Steffen stay in Columbus next year? Or will he go overseas?

The Columbus Crew SC will return to action on Aug. 11 against the Houston Dynamo. The match will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET at MAPFRE Stadium.