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Zack Steffen is off to a winning start with Manchester City. The United States national team’s No. 1 goalkeeper made his debut for Pep Guardiola’s all-world side in Thursday’s 2-1 English Football League Cup triumph against Bournemouth.
With several key regulars given a rest, City got goals on either side of halftime from youngsters Liam Delap and Phil Foden. Foden’s strike broke a 1-1 deadlock in the 75th minute to help the Sky Blues advance to the fourth round of the straight knockout tournament, which is considered the third-most important domestic competition in England after the Premier League and FA Cup.
The Cityzens, who have won five of the last seven EFL Cup titles, including the last three in a row, will meet fellow Prem club Burnley in the last 16.
Steffen is surely thrilled with the result, but the former Columbus Crew and Fortuna Dusseldorf backstop didn’t have too much to do in the game. The only shot overmatched Bournemouth managed to put on-target all evening was Sam Surridge’s equalizer four minutes after Delap — the son of longtime Premier Leaguer Rory Delap — had opened the scoring for the hosts in the 18th minute. There was nothing Steffen could do to stop Surridge’s 10-yard blast into the side-netting. The Cherries are playing in the English second-tier this season after being relegated in July following five years in the Premier League.
Columbus sold Steffen to then-Prem champs City in 2019, but he spent last season on loan to Fortuna. After an impressive start there, he missed the second half of the season with a knee injury as the club was relegated from the top-flight Bundesliga. Thursday’s match marked Steffen’s first action of 2020.
Steffen will spend the 2020-21 campaign as the understudy to Brazilian keeper Ederson. Ederson is City’s undisputed starter in the Prem and the Champions League, which the club is particularly desperate to win this season after continually falling short in recent years despite employing one of the deepest and most talented squads in Europe. But with the games coming thick and fast in a condensed schedule necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, Steffen figures to continue getting games in both the EFL and FA Cups to take some of the workload off of Ederson.
Steffen is one of several American players on the books with some of the planet’s top clubs this season. His fellow Pennsylvanian Christian Pulisic stars for Chelsea. Weston McKennie just walked into Juventus’s lineup. Giovanni Reyna, 17, starts for Borussia Dortmund and scored his first Bundesliga goal last weekend. Chris Richards is beginning to break in with German champ Bayern Munich, and a Tyler Adams strike put RB Leipzig into the Champions League semifinals last month.
The Sky Blues’ next match is Sunday’s Premier League clash with Leicester City in Manchester. The date for the club’s League Cup match with Burnley has not yet been announced.
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