US Soccer confirmed today that usual starting keeper Zack Steffen is still in England with a minor back issue, and is being monitored day-to-day to determine whether he will join his international teammates during the current window.
US Soccer confirmed Steffen’s status on their Twitter account earlier, stating “Zack Steffen experienced back tightness this past weekend and has not yet traveled to Columbus. His is status is day-to-day.”
This is a blow to the team, albeit not a critical one, as they prepare for the three upcoming cold-weather qualifiers that could put them on the cusp of a berth to Qatar in November.
Steffen was left off of Manchester City’s roster this past weekend, presumably due to his back issues, for their 1-1 draw on Saturday at Southampton.
While the situation for all three games is not set in stone according to the announcement, this likely means that New England Revolution keeper, and 2021 MLS Keeper of the Year Matt Turner will once again assume the starting role against El Salvador, Canada and Honduras in the coming days.
While the two have different skillsets between the sticks in terms of shot stopping, distribution and general skill with the ball at their feet, quality-wise, this is a like-for-like switch that should see little or no drop-off at the position.
Through eight qualifying games, Steffen has started three in comparison to Turner’s five, although the Manchester City backup had presumably assumed the starting role after taking over for each of the last three. Steffen has conceded two goals in those three games, while Turner has conceded three to opposing teams in his five games.
Gregg Berhalter did call four keepers into the camp, with NYCFC’s Sean Johnson and Chicago’s phenom Gabriel Slonina next in line behind Turner.
The United States currently sits on 15 points, second in the eight-team qualifying group, and could see their advantage increase with both Mexico and Panama having tough road games on Thursday evening.