When Columbus Crew SC returns to Major League Soccer play on Sautrday night against Los Angeles Football Club, the team will do so without one of its key pieces. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen will miss the game due to a knee injury suffered on Thursday at training. Black & Gold head coach Gregg Berhalter confirmed the injury to The Columbus Dispatch.
Steffen joined Crew SC in late July of 2016. He spent the remainder of that season as a backup to starter Steve Clark, going on loan at points to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Following the 2016 season, Columbus parted ways with Clark and Steffen won the starting job in preseason over Brad Stuver.
In his first year as Crew SC’s starting goalkeeper, Steffen played and started in all 34 MLS matches. He recorded nine shutouts and 98 saves with a 1.44 goals against average. Steffen became more of a national household name in the MLS Cup playoffs, recording three shutouts and helping the team come within one goal of hosting the MLS Cup Final.
This year, Steffen has been even better for the Black & Gold, setting a new club record for consecutive shutout minutes with 525. Already in 2017, Steffen has seven shutouts in 14 games played and a league-best goals against average of 0.79.
So far in 2018, Steffen has missed only three games, all while he was with the United States National Team. Without Steffen, Berhalter will likely turn to nine-year veteran Jon Kempin. The goalkeeper has been a backup the majority of his career, recording 16 total starts and two shutouts. Kempin started each of the three games Steffen missed this season, making five saves and allowing five goals. Columbus is 1-0-2 in games Kempin has started.
The other options for Berhalter would be second-year goalkeeper Logan Ketterer, who made his debut for Crew SC against the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup last week, and rookie Ben Lundgaard, who just returned from a hand injury.
According to what Berhalter told The Dispatch that the extent of the injury is not known and Steffen will receive an MRI.