Goalkeeper Zack Steffen has been named U.S. Men's National Team Player of the Year.
Steffen, 23, enjoyed a stellar 2018 for both club and country. He made 32 league and playoff appearances for the Columbus Crew, recording 11 shutouts along with a goals-against average of 1.28. It was enough for him to be named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
Steffen also made significant strides at international level. He made his international debut on Jan. 28, coming on at halftime in a 0-0 draw against Bosnia & Herzegovina. In March, he recorded his first clean sheet at international level, a 1-0 triumph over Paraguay. Steffen's best performance came two months later when he made several stellar saves in a 1-1 draw against eventual World Cup champions France.
The goalkeeper's hard work at both club and international level paid off when he was transferred to Premier League side Manchester City for a fee reportedly between $7 million and $10 million. The fee is a record for an MLS keeper, although he won't join the club until next summer.
After playing collegiately for two seasons at the University of Maryland, Steffen began his professional career with German side Freiberg in 2015. But he didn't make a first-team appearance, instead playing 14 times for the club's reserve team. He was acquired by the Crew in the summer of 2016, and played nine games on loan for the third-tier Pittsburgh Riverhounds before securing the starting job with the Crew in 2017.
Steffen is the fourth goalkeeper to win the award, and his triumph puts him among some of the greats in U.S. soccer history. Kasey Keller was named U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year in 1997, 1999 and 2005. Brad Friedel won the award in 2002, while Tim Howard was honored in 2008 and 2014.