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Zack Steffen lands on MLS Best XI

Black & Gold backstop honored again

MLS: Eastern Conference Semifinal-New York Red Bulls at Columbus Crew SC Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Zack Steffen has had a season to remember for Columbus. The goalkeeper made his U.S. National Team debut in January and collected six caps this year. He made his MLS All-Star debut in August and was named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year earlier this week. On Sunday, Steffen has now added a spot on the MLS Best XI team to his individual honors.

For the 2018 season, Steffen had a 1.28 goals against average as he made 29 starts this year. He recorded 10 shutouts on the year. Both are the best stats of his young career.

“Zack has been one of our key performers since earning the starting goalkeeper role, leading the team to two consecutive playoff appearances.” head coach Gregg Berhalter said in a statement, adding “He consistently raises his game on bigger and bigger stages. We are thrilled for all the recognition he has earned this season and we look forward to his continued maturation as a player.”

Steffen was linked to a move to Europe over the summer as Championship team Bristol City made a $3.9 million bid for the goalkeeper during the transfer window that Crew SC declined. Despite the rejection, the interest reportedly remains high to pry him away from Columbus.

The goalkeeper is the 11th Crew SC player to be honored as a member of the MLS Best XI and the 14th time that a Black & Gold player has made the end of season team.

Previous Crew SC Best XI players include Thomas Dooley in 1997 and 1998 with Brad Friedel joining him in 1997. Stern John made the team at forward during his electric 1998 season. Jeff Cunningham earned a spot on the Best XI in 2002. Robin Frasier was on the Best XI during his Defender of the Year Season in 2004.

Chad Marshall also was a Best XI defender in 2008 and 2009 when he was back to back Defender of the Year. Guillermo Barros Schelotto was a back to back honoree in 2007 and 2008. Winger Robbie Rogers made the list in 2008, one of three Massive champions recognized.

In the Berhalter era, Ethan Finlay and Kei Kamara were honored during the MLS Cup Final year of 2015.

Another trip to MLS Cup would likely include more Steffen heroics. Crew SC is currently in the middle of a postseason run, with a 1-0 advantage over the New York Red Bulls after Leg 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Black & Gold and the Red Bulls play Leg 2 on Sunday evening and Steffen may be called on to make big plays to keep the team’s run alive.