Editor’s note: We would like to introduce Nick Hudak to the Massive Report staff. Nick is a senior at Ohio State and a longtime Crew fan. He will be contributing with us at least through the 2019 Crew season in a variety of ways.
The 2018 year can officially be described as the Year of Zack Steffen. U.S. Soccer has named the Columbus Crew SC goalkeeper as the 2018 U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year it was announced on Tuesday.
“It’s an honor to be put with those names that have won before me and to have the respect and confidence from teammates, coaches and staff,” Steffen said in the press release. “I’m thankful for my support system. Without them I couldn’t have done any of this. It gives me motivation and confidence to keep going and do bigger and better things.”
In a transitional year for the men’s national team, Steffen was a unique bright spot in one of the most important and undecided positions. In January, the goalkeeper made his national team debut at just 22 years old coming on as a second-half substitute for Bill Hamid in a 0-0 draw to Bosnia and Herzegovina. His hands-down best performance was against eventual World Cup Champion France, where Steffen made eight saves, three of which came within the final 10 minutes of the game to help preserve a 1-1 draw.
Over the course of 2018, Steffen appeared in six games, the most of any U.S. goalkeeper over that span and the most of any player at the position in his debut year in U.S. Soccer history. In those contests, Steffen recorded two shutouts.
Steffen becomes just the fourth goalkeeper to win the award, following in the steps of legendary U.S. soccer keepers Kasey Keller (1997, 1999, 2005), Tim Howard (2008, 2014) and Brad Friedel (2002). The 23 year old also became the younger goalkeeper to win Male Player of the Year.
The U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards are determined by respective national team coaches, national team players who earned a cap in 2018, members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, National Women’s Soccer League head coaches for the WNT and American soccer league (MLS and USL) head coaches, select media members and former players and administrators. Steffen received 44 percent of the vote, followed by New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams (38 percent) and Schalke 04 midfielder Weston McKennie (16 percent). Nidfielder Alex Mendez was name the 2018 Young Male Player of the Year.
Steffen adds this award to a career year where he saw great success with the Crew. His performances earned him the 2018 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award, a bid to the MLS All-Star team, the league First XI and an eventual move to reigning English Premier League Champion Manchester City coming in the summer of 2019.