Within the past calendar year, Columbus Crew SC goalkeeper Zack Steffen’s list of accomplishments has continued to set the bar high for himself, the Club, and supporters’ expectations.
Following Crew SC’s 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on Aug. 11, Steffen reached a personal milestone, earning his 25th career MLS win while posting his eighth shutout of the season, one shy of his season-high nine set in 2017.
Of course, Steffen’s play is a key component to the level of defensive play overall from Crew SC, as Columbus ranks fourth in MLS in goals-conceded with 29.
“I think it's a testament to our hard work and what the guys in front of me are doing and we [have to] keep going,” Steffen said.
With the victory, Steffen became the second-fastest Columbus ‘keeper to reach 25 regular-season wins, doing so in 53 games played. William Hesmer, who played for Crew SC from 2007-12, reached 25 regular-season wins in 49 games played.
Both Steffen’s first victory and shutout came in his third career start for Crew SC on March 18, 2017 at D.C. United as part of a 2-0 victory.
Recently, Steffen earned his first career MLS All-Star nod as a Coach’s Pick in the 2018 All-Star game versus seven-time Serie A champion Juventus FC on Aug. 1. The Columbus ‘keeper recorded two saves in the latter 45 minutes of regulation, as both teams remained tied at 1-1 through 90 minutes before Juventus prevailed 5-3 on penalty kicks.
As Columbus prepares to travel south against Atlanta United, supporters recall Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the launching point of a strong 2017 playoff run that witnessed Crew SC reach the Eastern Conference Championship. In that match, Steffen posted one of his most memorable performances with three penalty saves to help seal a 3-1 penalty kick advantage after 120 minutes of scoreless play.
Despite that being Crew SC’s last match in Atlanta, last year’s accomplishments have no effect on Columbus’ current mindset, according to Steffen.
“Right now, we know that Atlanta is obviously leading the East and going down there is going to be really tough, and it won’t be anything like last year so we’ll have to be ready for it,” Steffen said.
Along with Steffen, Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan made the MLS All-Star team, as both hold top-10 save percentages among League ‘keepers who have made at least 19 appearances this season.
Notably, Atlanta (28) ranks third in goals conceded League-wide — and one spot ahead of Crew SC — while Columbus’ eight clean sheets rank fourth in MLS, one below a three-way tie for first.
Sunday’s Eastern Conference showdown against Atlanta is slated for Sunday, Aug. 19 at 4 p.m. ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.